St Andrews (Scotland), October 16
Indian golfer SSP Chawrasia returned to action in style after recovering from coronavirus infection as he carded a 3-under 69 in the first round of the inaugural Scottish Championship here.
The 42-year-old, who had successfully fought against COVID-19 in August, had six birdies against three bogeys that placed him tied-21st in the first round.
Shubhankar Sharma (71) was tied-46 and Gaganjeet Bhullar (75) was tied-83 as Spaniard Adrian Otaegui shot a 10-under 62 to lead by three shots over Matt Wallace and South African Bryce Easton, who fired a 67 each.
Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington came back with a 6-under 66 and was tied-fourth.
Chawrasia, who last played a competitive round in March at the Qatar Masters, opened with a birdie and was 3-under through six holes, before he dropped three bogeys in four holes between the 5th and 8th.
Birdies on the 11th and 16th repaired some of that damage and he finished at 3-under 69.
“Considering how long it has been since I played a tournament, it was a decent start. Actually, I had begun to find my rhythm and was preparing for Hero Indian Open but then came the lockdown. That took away the momentum. And then I had COVID-19 and my mother too had it. I am glad all that is behind,” said Chawrasia.
On his round, Chawrasia said, “Things were great at 3-under through six holes. But I had two not very good chips from close to the green and when I did hit one fine, I missed a smallish putt for bogey.”
“I am happy I played myself back into the round on back nine with two birdies and no bogeys. I have played a lot around St Andrews but never at Fairmont so it was a new Links course for me. After a Covid test and then staying at the hotel at Fairmont, it has been good and adjusted to it. Hopefully things will be as well over the next three days.”
Sharma, after two bogeys in his first three holes, ended at 1-under 71 while Bhullar, who is having a rough run, opened with a double bogey and then had a run of three bogeys in a row from 1st to 3rd. He birdied the 18th and the 6th.
Otaegui shot an impressive bogey-free opening round of 62. A hat-trick of birdies at the beginning of both nines helped the two-time European Tour winner set a target of 10 under par at Fairmont St Andrews. Englishman Matt Wallace and Bryce Easton were at 7-under par.
Harrington and English trio of Garrick Porteous, Chris Paisley and Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open champion Aaron Rai are a shot further back after opening rounds of 66. PTI