Shiv Kapur, who has flirted with glory on more than one occasion this season, knocked eight birdies and two bogeys to take a share of the lead on the opening day of the season-ending USD 600,000 Volvo Masters of Asia in Bangkok on Thursday.
The 23-year-old Indian, who has had an amazing second half in the 2005 season, went out in two-under 34 and then told his friend and caddie, Neeraj Sareen, that six-under was very much possible.
He did just that with four birdies on the last five holes to negotiate the back nine in 32 and finish at six-under 66 at the lovely Thai Country Club on the outskirts of Bangkok.
Kapur shares the lead with Andrew Buckle, who arrived barely 24 hours ago from the final stage from the United States Qualifying School where he missed making the card by two shots. Buckle, also a rookie like Kapur this season, carded a flawless 66.
Yet another youngster, this one from Thailand, Prom Meesawat overshadowed his better known compatriots, Thongchai Jaidee (70) and Thaworn Wiratchant (71), and shot a five-under 67 that gave him the sole third spot.
Defending champion Jyoti Randhawa with two-under was tied 13th, while Gaurav Ghei overcame a triple bogey to finish at par 72 and in tied 30 th place. Harmeet Kahlon suffered a double dunking in the water for a triple on 17th and finished at one-over in tied 36th place. Jeev Milkha Singh with a bogey-bogey finish was tied 44th with a 74.
"The greens were rolling a bit different today in comparison to yesterday (Pro-Am). I took a few holes to adjust to the greens. The wind dropped and there was premium on hitting the fairway. You keep it in play, on the short grass, and I putted really well," said Kapur, who has been in contention more than once in the last few weeks on Asian Tour.
India's other challengers had a mixed day.
Randhawa's round suffered on account of back-to-back bogeys on the seventh and eighth, as he ended the day at two-under 70 and in tied 13th place. He had two birdies each on front and back nines, but two bogeys on front did him in.
Jeev seemed to be progressing fine, despite some 'mediocre hitting' in his own words, before a bogey-bogey finish saw him fall back to par after being two-under at the 17 th tee. "I hit quite badly today and also missed putts," said Jeev.
Ghei hit a purple patch with four straight birdies from second to fifth and seemed to cruising to a place on the leaderboard at the end of the day.
That was when he was hit by a triple on the 12 th hole. He slipped while driving and then saw his shot from the bunker hit the face of the sand trap and rebound close to his feet for a triple.
"I had to calm myself and finished with six pars for a 72. I was putting really great on the front nine," said Ghei.
Kahlon looked like having found his way to sub-par score with birdies on 15th and 16th to be two-under, when he went into the water twice on 17th and came out drenched in the disappointment of a triple bogey to end the day at one-over 73 tied in 36th place.
Leading scores on First day
66: Shiv Kapur and Andrew Buckle
67: Prom Meesawat
68: Ted Oh, Anthony Kang, Srirot Thammanoon, Adam Fraser
69: Chawalit Plaphol, Terry Pilkadaris, Marcus Both, Richard Moir, Gary Simpson
70: Jyoti Randhawa, Jason Knutzon, Ron Won, Boonchu Ruangkit, Mahal Pearce, Frankie Minoza, Scott Strange, Thongchai Jaidee
66: Shiv Kapur - tied first
70: Jyoti Randhawa - tied 13th
72: Gaurav Ghei - tied 30th
73: Harmeet Kahlon - tied 36th
74: Jeev Milkha Singh - tied 44th.