Anirban Lahiri overcame swirling winds for an opening round three-under-par 69 lead to ignite his title defence at the Panasonic Open India [ Images ] on Thursday.
The Indian star fired five birdies against two bogeys in a round, which he described as possibly the toughest conditions he has ever played at the Delhi [ Images ] Golf Club.
Prom Meesawat of Thailand was among eight players tied in second place on 70 with Asian Tour rookie James Byrne of Scotland, Australians Adam Groom and Scott Barr and Indians Shankar Das, Ashok Kumar, Sanjay Kumar and Digvijay Singh [ Images ] at the US$300,000 event.
Lahiri was delighted to overcome the unfamiliar playing conditions at the Delhi Golf Club as gushing winds made it a tough scoring day. Only 15 players broke par in the 156-man field.
"Yes, this is my first time playing in these swirling winds at the Delhi Golf Club. I was talking to Shiv's (Kapur) long time caddy who was on the bag for Peter (Karmis) and he said he hasn't experienced this condition in 34 years!" said Lahiri, a two-time Asian Tour winner.
"Today was a brand new experience for me and I'm happy with the way I played, especially with the wind blowing at 30 or 40 kilometres per hour. It was all about execution and not much about strategy," added the 24-year-old, who will make his British Open debut in July.
Prom, third on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, was disappointed to miss his two feet par putt on the last hole which would have given him the share of the lead.
"The wind made it very tricky. You need to try and keep the ball in play. The conditions of the course are very good. I know the course very well but I'm not going to take that for granted. Anyone can shoot a low score here. You need to stay patient out here," said Prom, who lost in a play-off to Lahiri at the SAIL-SBI Open at the same venue last month.
Barr made a brave comeback after opening with two straight bogeys and credited his strong mental resilience for his solid round.
"My temperament was pretty good after a bad start (two bogeys). My highlight was probably keeping my mental game in check. Hopefully I can tidy it up and be around the leaderboard," said Barr, who finished third at the Delhi Golf Club last month.