Singapore, January 13 Khalin Joshi, the last Indian to win on the Asian Tour, back in 2018, made a strong bid for a second title as he overcame strong winds and a demanding golf course where wind speeds reached as much as 35 km per hour at The Singapore International.

Joshi also has family in Singapore with his grandmother, sister and uncle and said he has been visiting the country since he was a child. 

Joshi, who won the 2018 Panasonic Open at the Delhi Golf Club for his maiden Asian Tour success, shot five-under-par 67 on the Tampines Course to lead Englishman William Harrold (69) by two shots in the US$1 million event at the Tan Merah course.

It may well have been a one-two for India as Ajeetesh Sandhu, who was 4-under through 13 holes but dropped shots on 14th and 16th before picking a birdie on 18th. He was 2-under 70 and placed Tied-third alongside American Paul Peterson while Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond and Pavit Tangkamoprasert, Chan Shih-chang from Chinese-Taipei plus South African Mathiam Keyser returned 71.

Another Indian in Top-10 was Abhijit Chadha (72) at T-9, while Shubhankar Sharma, a close friend of Joshi, shot 73 and was T-20. Olympian Udayan Mane (74) was T-31 while Rashid Khan and S Chikkarangappa with 75 each were T-45. Even as SSP Chawrasia missed out on the event due to a Covid Test his nephew Sunit Chowrasia, Karandeep Kochhar and Viraj Madappa carded 77 each. With scores of 78 each, youngster Veer Ahlawat and veteran Jeev Singh, a winner in Singapore ack in 2006, were T-79. Jyoti Randhawa and Shiv Kapur with 79 were T-86. M Dharma (81) is T-108.

Joshi, who started on the tenth, had seven birdies. Starting from 10th he was five-under through 10 holes with birdies on 12th, 15th, 17th and 18th. He added one more on first but dropped shots on second and fourth before picking two more birdies on fifth and eighth.

Joshi admitted, “It was obviously a very challenging golf course to start off with; it’s long, it’s windy and the flags were all tough, so it wasn’t very easy, greens are firm.”

“So, I’m just very pleased with the way I’m playing and with the way, my round went today. Hopefully, we can continue with the way I’m playing and see what happens at the end of the week.”

Added Joshi: “It’s been a while since I’ve been leading on the Asian Tour. It’s obviously feeling very good. But it’s a four-day tournament, so you know, there’s still a long way to go. Obviously, it’s a challenging golf course, everybody is going to make mistakes. The key is to stay patient and whenever you have chances to make birdies, just capitalise. Just enjoy it, because it’s going to be a long week for sure.” 

Australian Wade Ormsby, the current leader of the Asian Tour Order of Merit, was in a large group of players who fired 72. 

Journeyman tour pro Harrold ̶ who played on the EuroPro Tour last year ̶ made an eagle, four birdies and three bogeys to take the clubhouse lead in the morning session.

Reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion Jazz, coming off a five-week break, was content with his round after birdieing his final two holes.

Indian scores:

67 - Khalin Joshi

70 - Ajeetesh Sandhu ,

72 - Abhijit Chadha

73 - Shubhankar Sharma ,

74 - Udayan Mane

75 - Rashid Khan , S Chikkarangappa ,

77 - Sunit Chowrasia , Karandeep Kochhar , Viraj Madappa

78 - Veer Ahlawat , Jeev Singh

79 - Jyoti Randhawa , Shiv Kapur ,

81 - M Dharma ,