There were two sides to SSP Chawrasia on Friday. The familiar one went about the task with a bowed head, telling himself all the time that aggression was best left anywhere but the DLF Golf & Country Club. The other half, rarely on view, reacted sharply to an attempt at scrutiny of his ways.
Chawrasia is still learning what works here, but that is expected given the players’ unfamiliarity with this course. Two days into the Hero Indian Open, some understanding has been acquired and it reflected on the scorecard.
At five-under 67, he has the clubhouse lead after the threat of lightning disrupted play again. Even-par at the start of the day, it was a marked improvement, and staying bogey free showed his method of being conservative off the tees had worked.
While he insists “this (course) is nothing like what I’ve encountered anywhere”, shades of resemblance with the Delhi Golf Club (DGC), where he won last year, are there.
“If DGC is narrow, this one’s narrower, plus the water hazards make ball placement the key here too. Getting to the green in good time, the attempt is for birdie; if not one’s happy to move on with par.”
Such was the focus on execution that the gathering of clouds and claps of thunder went unheard. He even had trouble recollecting greens in regulation. It was one shot at a time, and whichever way it went, he let nothing affect him. Not even the miss from about two feet on the 9th which would have given him a two-shot lead. “I’m not even thinking about it.”
What stayed on were the long putts for birdie on the 5th and 8th as they were deemed crucial.
Amid the talk of his ‘rivalry’ with Anirban Lahiri, especially at DGC, Chawrasia was asked what was it that had him playing well at home. On most occasions, Chawrasia would have let it pass, but not this time. Looking the questioner in the eye, he shot back, “I play well outside as well.” The reference was to the win in Manila towards the end of last year.
He let it stay at that as the hooter signalling stoppage of play got his attention. Life on tour can be tough and scheduling plays a part. Amid the disruption, Chawrasia was thankful to have finished this time. “I woke up at 4 today (he had three holes to go of Round One), so I can get some rest.”
139: SSP Chawrasia (72, 67); 140: David Horsey (66, 74); Matteo Manassero: (68, one-over after seven); Eddie Pepperell (69, even-par after two); 142: Carlos Pigem (69, 73); Michael Hoey (71, 71); Sam Walker (70, even-par after eight); Steven Tiley (70, even-par after seven); Danny Chia (70, even-par after three).