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Hirmer leads after day one of The Challenge in India

Hirmer leads after day one of The Challenge in India

Michael Hirmer posted an eight under par round of 64 to take a one stroke lead after the first round of The Challenge presented by KGA at Karnataka Golf Association.

Michael Hirmer

The 26-year-old German, playing in his first year on the European Challenge Tour, mixed nine birdies - including six in a seven hole stretch on the back nine - with a solitary bogey, to lead by one in Bangalore.

One shot back on seven under par are England’s Alex Fitzpatrick, Germany’s Philipp Katich and home favourite Divyanshu Bajaj, with the Indian registering an ace on the par three 13th to put himself in early contention. 

The Challenge presented by KGA is the second of back-to-back events at Karnataka Golf Association and with only one day’s turnaround between tournaments, Hirmer was pleased to see the putts begin to drop on Tuesday in Bangalore.

“It was a good day,” he said. “I got off to a great start and my putter was really hot. I was in a nice flow this morning and I am really happy.

“I hit some good irons today and stayed patient. Last week I played well but didn’t make my putts. It was nice to see some putts drop today and I’m looking forward to the rest of the week.

“I love the weather and the grass here. It’s a different style but I think the layout is great and I’m so happy to be in India.”

With four rounds of competitive golf under his belt already in Bangalore, the German adopted a slightly different approach to certain holes given his experience last week.

“I didn’t play seven or 18 well last week so I tried to play them a bit more conservatively today,” he said. “They are the most difficult holes on this course. I have a few birdie holes on my mind and the focus is to try and get pin high on every approach. It’s important to hit fairways on this course and I’ve done a good job of that so far.

“I think the key is to get it close with your approach shots because you hit a lot of wedges and short irons into the greens. If you strike them well, you can leave yourself a short putt and then it’s all about making them.

“It is new to me playing four rounds in a row; I’m really enjoying it and it’s good to get some confidence early on in the season.”

Eight players share fifth place on six under par, including Spaniards Pep Angles, Ivan Cantero Gutierrez and Javier Sainz, Kartik Sharma and Mari Muthu R from India, England’s Marco Penge, Frenchman Tom Vaillant and Lars Van Meijel, of the Netherlands.

The second round gets under way at 6.40am local time, with Hirmer teeing it up alongside India’s Khalin H Joshi and Frenchman Frederic Lacroix at 12.15pm.

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