Kumar shocks the field

Unheralded Chiragh Kumar has fired a stunning 8-under 64 to grab a shock lead at the Hero Indian Open.

Unheralded Chiragh Kumar of India fired a stunning eight-under-par 64 to grab a shock, first round lead at the Hero Indian Open on Thursday.

Kumar upstaged the stellar Asian Tour stars gathered at the Delhi Golf Club with a flawless round highlighted by eight birdies.

Veteran Zaw Moe of Myanmar was a further stroke back with Scotland’s Ross Bain and Lin Wen-hong of Chinese Taipei, who is hoping to make amends from his disqualification in the final round of the Yeangder TPC last week.

Kumar, 27, a 2006 Asian Games team silver medallist, could have extended his lead by two, but missed a 15 foot eagle putt on the last.

“I wanted to keep it simple. I didn’t have a score in mind, but I read my putts well. The Asian Tour has staged quite a number of events in India this year and I’ve definitely improved playing with Asia’s best,” said Kumar, a two-time winner on the local Indian circuit.

“I didn’t have any expectations in this tournament but I hope I can continue my form and hopefully I’ll still be on top the leader board on Sunday,” said Kumar, whose best finish was a tie for 10th at the 2006 Indian Open when he was still an amateur.

Moe, 44, has enjoyed two top-10 finishes since changing to a belly putter in the Macau Open in September and needed only 25 putts in a round of six birdies and one eagle on the par five 14th hole where his seven wood approach landed six feet from the hole.

“One of the reasons for my good form is my belly putter which has helped me a lot.

“My putting has been very consistent since I changed it and my confidence is really high at the moment,” said Moe, whose last victory on the Asian Tour was in 1997.

Lin would have finished in a tie for third last week had he not signed for the wrong score, but he bounced back on Thursday but he showed some true grit with a flawless round on Thursday highlighted by five straight birdies starting from the 13th hole.

“I was really sad after last week but it looks like I’ve recovered,” said Lin, who shot five consecutive birdies from the 13th hole.

“To be honest, I didn’t expect to play well here. I came here without thinking of winning at all. I’m here just to play hole by hole and hopefully get a good result,” added the younger brother of Asian Tour winners Wen-tang and Wen-ko.

The Dubai-based Bain, who finished second in the Indian Open in 2001 and carded a best ever 65 at the Delhi Golf Club on Thursday for a share of second place , said: “I got off to a fast start and started playing better as the round went on. I played very well on the par fives which you have to do on this course.

“I’ve played here a lot over the years and it is nice to feel that I got the better of Delhi Golf Club,” said Bain, who is searching for a maiden Asian Tour victory.

64 – Chiragh Kumar (Ind).
65 – Lin Wen-Hong (Tpe), Ross Bain (Sco), Zaw Moe (Myn).
67 – Scott Barr (Aus).
68 – David Gleeson (Aus), Angelo Que (Phi), Adilson Da Silva (Bra).
69 – Om Prakash Chouhan (Ind), Tjaart Van Der Walt (Rsa), Himmat Rai (Ind), Chapchai Nirat (Tha), Rikard Karlberg (Swe), Gurki Shergill (Ind), S.S.P. Chowrasia (Ind), Atthaphon Prathummanee (Tha), Young Nam (Kor), Jbe Kruger (Rsa), Baek Seuk-Hyun (Kor), Simon Griffiths (Eng), Namchok Tantipokhakul (Tha).