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Indian Open golf: Emiliano Grillo in lead, Shubhankar Sharma tied 57th on day one

Day one of the Indian Open golf tournament saw Emiliano Grillo take the lead, whilst young Indian sensation Shubhankar Sharma finished tied 57th.

other sports Updated: Mar 08, 2018 21:59 IST
Robin Bose
Robin Bose
Hindustan Times, Gurgaon
Indian Open,Indian Open golf,Emiliano Grillo
Day one of the Indian Open golf tournament saw Emiliano Grillo take the lead, whilst young Indian sensation Shubhankar Sharma finished tied 57th. (AFP)

Once ranked No 53 in the world, and two shots off clubhouse leader Emiliano Grillo here, at five-under 67 after Day One of the Hero Indian Open, Pablo Larrazabal’s career has panned out in a way that’s left him appreciative of the route to the top.

A four-time winner on the European Tour, Pablo, though sure of himself, had to bide his time in order to prove to his father that he was ready to turn professional back in the last decade. On Thursday, the 34-year-old Spaniard almost did not get to narrate his tale of how fulfilling it was to shoot nine birdies on a course that’s been billed a beast.

Shubhankar Sharma, who finished tied 9th at the World Golf Championships in Mexico last week and got an invite to next month’s Augusta Masters, was tied 57th after a first round of 73. The best Indian was Ajeetesh Sandhu who was four-under after 17 holes when play was stopped for the day.

Given his state when he reached the DLF Golf and Country Club amid growing morning traffic, Pablo was thankful to escape with two bogeys and a double. “After hitting a couple of balls at the range I had to stop as the heart was beating really fast,” he said.

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Scheduled to tee off at 7am, Pablo was woken up 38 minutes before by a Tour official as, unknown to him, the “lovely new iPhone” had gone back to Spanish time and the alarm did not go off. Fearful that he would not make it in time, given the notorious traffic, Pablo rushed through his morning chores.

For one who likes to be up and ready at least three hours before reporting time, arriving 25 minutes before tee off was unnerving, and Pablo was profusely thankful to the driver of the courtesy car for making it in record time.

Calming down somewhat, overseeing the layout from the 10th tee box set the adrenaline racing again, and from there till the end of the round, Pablo gulped down several bottles of water to keep emotions in check.

The outcome was pleasing and had Pablo chirping, “I love this golf course. A couple of tricky greens but nine birdies is quite unbelievable.”

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It was a tough day at work and had the Spaniard reminiscing how he had to work his way to make it as a professional. In 2002, when he got home in Barcelona after completing high school in the US, Pablo was ready for the grind as a pro, but his father first wanted to learn “how normal people earn money”.

Off he went to the family’s fish farm in Santander and in freezing winter scrubbed floors and cleaned tanks. After proving himself, he was allowed to chart his path in 2004. From then to now, there have been times when Pablo has thanked his stars, and Thursday was one such occasion.

Another man to count himself lucky was clubhouse leader Grillo. Save the bogey on the 2nd, the Argentine couldn’t help gush the “way he handled himself to play near-perfect golf” to equal the course record of seven-under 65.

Leading scores

65: Emiliano Grillo

67: Pablo Larrazabal, Paul Peterson, Matteo Manassero, Adrien Saddier, Keith Horne

68: Marc Warren, Ajeetesh Sandhu

First Published: Mar 08, 2018 21:58 IST