Himmat tied 4th after Rd 1 at Black Mountain Masters

Last Updated: Dec 16, 2010, 20:58 PM IST

Hua Hin: Indian golfer Himmat Rai
kept his hopes alive of securing the 2011 Asian tour card by
posting a sparkling six-under 66 to lie tied fourth after the
opening round of the USD 600,000 Black Mountain Masters golf
tournament here on Thursday.

Himmat, who needs a top five finish here to secure his
card, sank as many as eight birdies against two bogeys to stay
just one stroke behind the leading trio of Tetsuji Hiratsuka
and Daisuke Maruyama of Japan and Angelo Que of Phillipines.

2008 Emaar-MGF Indian Masters winner SSP Chowrasia also
had a good day at the greens as he brought home a five-under
67 to lie tied 10th.

However, Shiv Kapur, who won the Volvo Masters in Bangkok
in 2005, and Anirban Lahiri had a tough time at the Black
Mountain Golf Club and are in danger of missing out on the
cut.

Kapur and Lahiri scored a matching one-over 73 in the
first round to share the 85th spot, two strokes adrift of the
cut line which has been decided at one-under.

Himmat didn`t have the best of starts as he stumbled on
the first hole but the Delhi golfer made amends by picking up
a birdie hat-trict from the fourth to the sixth holes to take
the turn at two-under.

On resumption, the 23-year-old Rai birdied the 10th hole
but a bogey at the 13th pulled him back a bit. However, Himmat
sank as many as four birdies in the last five holes to end the
day on a high.

"I`ve been hitting it pretty solid and putting well and
when you do that you will play well. I had a good drive up 17
just near the green and had an easy up-and-down," he said.

His senior pro, Chowrasia also had a satisfying front
nine as he picked up strokes at the second, third, sixth and
eighth to be four-under at the turn.

But a couple of bogeys at the 11th and 12th holes undid
the good work before the Kolkata golfer decided to pull things
back with three birdies on the 13th, 15th and 18th holes.

Rising Indian golfer Rai is yet to win a Asian Tour
event. He had three top-20 finishes on Asian Tour and three
second places on Indian Tour this year.

"I`ve been playing consistently well and this year has
really been a learning curve for me. I`m just sticking to what
I know best and maintain my form," said Rai, whose third-place
finish at the Iskandar Johor Open in 2009 remains his best on
Asian tour.

"We all know how it is at the moment and everyone who are
not in are trying to get into the top-61 but the most
important thing is to focus on what has to be done. This is
just another tournament and I`m going to try and play my best
four rounds," said Rai, who is placed 75th on the Order of
Merit.

PTI