Thursday, 28 February 2008

(Reuters) - Argentine Daniel Vancsik and India's Shamim Khan emerged as the unlikely early leaders after matching superb five under 67s on the opening day of the Johnnie Walker Classic.

Vancsik, 31, who recorded his maiden European Tour victory when he won the Madeira Islands Open BPI last year, holed an eagle on the par five ninth to reach two under for his round before rolling in three birdies on the back nine.

The diminutive Khan took advantage of a familiar course as he converted five birdies in a flawless round to join Vancsik one shot ahead of the field.

England's Mark Foster, Australian Greg Chalmers, South Africa's James Kamte and Dutchman Robert-Jan Derksen all carded four under par 68s to move into a four-way tie for third.

Fiji's three-time Major winner Vijay Singh was unhappy with his two under round of 70 while Scotland's eight-time European Number One Colin Montgomerie struggled to post a two over 74 at the DLF Golf and Country Club course.

"It's very disappointing," Singh said."I hit the ball really well but didn't putt well. There were too many loose shots, I must say, five or six."

The sunny and windless conditions were ideal for sub-par rounds but many complained about the grainy greens in the biggest event to be staged in India and sanctioned by the European, Asian and Australasian Tours.

Khan was pleased with the greens and the fact that he held a share of the early lead in a formidable field.

"The lines aren't too difficult to read," he said. "You have to adjust to it. I took only 24 putts today."

Ten other players were bunched up behind the leaders after rounds of 69, including China's 2007 Asian Tour Number One Liang Wen-chong and India's Arjun Atwal, a former two-time winner on The European Tour.

English World Number 24 Ian Poulter had three double-bogeys in four holes on his way to a four over 76, his game sharply contrasting with the dazzling golden shirt and shiny trousers he was wearing.

"Maybe he should dress more sober," joked Singh, his playing partner.

Tournament favourite and World Number Five Adam Scott was among those teeing off in the afternoon.

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