As India marked Republic Day on Thursday, SSP Chawrasia gave golf fans in the country further reason to celebrate with a two-under-par opening round of 70 at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
Chawrasia, 38, started the day brightly with a birdie on the par-five first but the three-time European Tour winner suffered a setback on the seventh where he bagged a triple-bogey seven.
However, the Kolkata-born star recovered spectacularly by firing birdies on 10, 13, 15 and 17 to give himself a solid start in his sixth appearance in the tournament, but first since 2013 when he finished 49th.
Chawrasia, India’s third-ranked player behind PGA Tour star Anirban Lahiri and Gaganjeet Bhullar, was delighted with his recovery after admitting he was inundated with good luck messages on Thursday morning.
“It’s Republic Day so I got a lot of messages this morning and I replied to many of them. Everybody in India must be very happy today – and I am, too!” laughed Chawrasia, who played alongside Asian Tour friends David Lipsky of the USA and Lee Soomin of South Korea.
“I’m really happy to come back after a triple bogey on seven. I hit a drive left and my ball was in a lot of stones so I took a penalty drop and then chipped out. On the fourth shot, I hit the green then three putted from over 30 feet.
“After that, I told myself that I can still save the round as there are many holes left and I then made a few birdies on the back nine and came back. I’m looking forward to another round.
“I’m two-under right now and obviously I’m looking to win the tournament. There are three days and many holes left. I have a good chance if I keep putting well.”
Republic Day is a national holiday in India and honours the date on which the Constitution of India came into force on 26 January 1950.
Friday’s second-round action at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters starts at 6.30am, with the last groups teeing off at 12.20pm. Chawrasia, India’s sole representative in the event, tees off at 11.10am on hole 10.