Brilliant Bhullar shares four-way lead at Panasonic Open

Kobe:India`s rising star Gaganjeet Bhullar was the only player to enjoy a bogey-free opening round of four-under 67 to share the lead at the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open here on Friday.

The 21-year-old Indian produced four birdies at the challenging par-71 Rokko Kokusai Golf Club`s East course to share the lead with Korean SK Ho and Japan`s Shintaro Kai and Kazuhiko Hosokawa here.

However, SSP Chowrasia (71) and Anirban Lahiri (74) could not make a strong start to the USD 1.7 million event and were tied 31 and 61 respectively.

India Open winner C Muniyappa was also tied 61 after carding an identical 74 on a day of tough scoring in the event which is co-sanctioned by the Japan Golf Tour and Asian Tour.

Title holder Daisuke Maruyama and Australia`s Marcus Fraser, who is second on the Asian Tour`s Order of Merit, were amongst in the chasing pack with 68s.

Japan`s number one Ryo Ishikawa carded 69 which included six birdies while current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Noh Seung-yul of Korea returned a 70 in the event, which was reduced to 54-holes after yesterday`s cancellation due to poor weather.

Being the only man in the 132-man field to be blemish-free put a big smile on Bhullar`s face. His card included a brilliant run of three birdies on the trot from his third hole of the day (12 to 14 hole).

"It was quite a satisfying round because the layout is pretty tough, especially the rough. I stroked the ball really well and kept everything on the fairway. I just played sensibly and consistent golf," said Bhullar.

Starting from the 10th, he picked up three straight shots from the 12th hole, thanks to some solid attacking play.

"I was a bit aggressive on those holes. I hit some brave shots," he said.

"With 54 holes, it changes things a bit. At the end of the day, you still have to play well, whether it`s 72 holes or 108 holes. Tomorrow will be very important. I`m playing early tomorrow, so let`s see what happens."