Shiga (Japan): Jeev Milkha Singh and Jyoti Randhawa, the only two Indians to have won titles in Japan, used all their experience to stay afloat on the opening day of the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open today after they shot even par 71 to be placed tied 33rd.
The duo was seven behind leader, Jbe Kruger of South Africa (64), who held a three-shot lead over second placed Japan`s Daisuke Maruyama and Kenichi Kuboya, who carded 67 each.
Jeev, who is playing his first event of the year in Japan this year and will play two more to keep his membership, had three birdies and three bogeys in his card.
Randhawa, who was the first Indian to win in Japan in 2003, had a similar round.
Meanwhile the other four Indians had a tough time on the course on Thursday.
Anirban Lahiri, hoping to achieve a Panasonic double, carded a two-over 73 to be tied 63rd. He was one-under through front nine, but had three bogeys and no birdies on back nine.
Manav Jaini and SSP Chowrasia shot 74 each to be tied 84th, while Shiv Kapur and Sujjan Singh carded six-over 77 to be 124th and would now need exceptionally good second rounds to stay on for the weekend.
Meanwhile, leader Kruger, second on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, edged closer towards his maiden Asian Tour title when he posted a seven-under-par 64 to take the first round lead.
Kruger has come close to winning on several occasions but his maiden title has often eluded him. The South African knows that he has to keep his focus before he gets rewarded with a well deserved place in the winner`s circle.
Despite playing in Japan for the first time, Kruger displayed no signs of nerves as he marked his card with six birdies, an eagle and a lone bogey.
Maruyama and Kuboya returned with matching 67s to take second place alongside Korea`s Bae Sang-moon and S K Ho at the 150,000,000 yen (approximately USD 1.7 million) event, jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour.
Chinese Taipei`s Chan Yih-shin continued his good run by signing for a 68 to take a share of sixth place with six players, including Thailand`s Prom Meesawat here at the Biwako Country Club.
Chan put himself in contention for a back-to-back win, following his victory in Macau last week. The Chinese Taipei golfer is confident of achieving another good result as he believes he is in good form.