Incheon: India's men's golf team, which has won a medal at each of the last three Asian Games, frittered away a good start to be placed fifth after the first round of the competition, here on Thursday.
India began well only to be struck down as finishing blues haunted them towards the end at the Dream Park Country Club. Yet all four men managed under-par scores and were within striking distance of the leaders.
Udayan Mane and Feroz Garewal carded two-under 70 each to be tied ninth and four shots behind the leader, seasoned Cheng Tsung Pan (Taipei), a silver medallist in 2006, who shot a bogey-free six-under 66.
Manu Gandas and Samarth Dwivedi finished with 71 each in tied 20th place.
With a total of five-under 209 for the best three scores, the Indians were fifth in team placing, and the joint leaders were Taipei and Korea.
"The greens were slow but true. We expected something faster, but were still going fine. Till I hit a bad drive on 14th where I lost the ball and paid with a double, I was going fine. That affected me on next hole also and I dropped a bogey,"Mane said.
"Fortunately, I birdied the 17th which was a good psychological boost then I made a nice par on 18th to ensure a decent night's sleep," he added.
Mane hoped that familiarity with the conditions would help them recover.
"We played this course in July and can do better in the coming rounds. We are trying not to get pressured by the fact that this is Asian Games, but that is easier said than done. Still there is a lot of golf to come."
Raian Irani, the non-playing captain, said, "These are young boys and are very talented. The IGU has given them good exposure taking them to various events and even to Korea for practice. They are still very much there as all four shot under par and were consistent till the last few holes. I feel they can pull back in the coming rounds."
The Indian women had a tougher time as Gurbani Singh (75) and Astha Madan (75) were tied 19th and Aditi Ashok (78) was tied 22nd among 36 starters. Indian women were eighth in team standings.
The Indian men were very well placed even past the turn, with Mane actually in lead for a brief at four-under after 13 holes. Even Grewal reached four-under after 14, at which point they shared the lead with Cheng Tsung Pan, before the latter added a fifth birdie to inch ahead.
While Pan made no mistakes and added one more birdie, the Indians courted trouble.
Garewal bogeyed 15th and 17th and ended at 70, while Mane suffered a lost ball on the 14th with a poor drive to the left. Still thinking about that he also bogeyed the 15th and plummeted from four-under to one-under. A consolation birdie on 17th and nice par on 18th saw him finish at 70, just as Garewal did to be tied ninth.
Gandas made no mistakes and picked birdies on the third, fourth and ninth. He was still three-under when he made a double bogey on par-5 16th. Dwivedi was also three-under when he came to the 13th tee and then had back-to-back bogeys followed by yet another one on 17th. A birdie in between on 16th was a consolation as he finished at 71.
Sangchan Supamas (67) led the women's field, while Sukapan Budsabakom (68) and Korea?s Lee Soyoung (68) were tied for second.
In individual men's standings, Chinese Taipei's Pan was in lead at 66 while the Korean pair, Kim Namhun and Youm Eunho shot 67 each.
In team standings, Taipei and Korea were tied at the top at 11-under 205, while Thailand were third at eight-under 208 and China, spearhead by Guan Tianglang (69) who made the cut at the Masters at 14 in 2013, hauling China to fourth place at seven-under 209 with India two shots further behind.
In team standings for women, Thailand, whose golfers occupied the top two spots were leading at nine-under 135 as two best of the three scores were counted.
Korea was second three shots at six-under 138 behind and the Philippines were third at five-under 139. India were eighth at 150.