Lahiri starts with a bang at European Masters

Crans Montana (Switzerland), Sep 5 (IANS) Three-time Asian Tour winner Anirban Lahiri of India put up a class act on the opening day of the Omega European Masters golf tournament when he fired an eight-under-par to grab the clubhouse lead Thursday.

Lahiri's commanding round was made even more remarkable as he is still nursing a twisted knee and was playing through the pain barrier at the $2.8 million showpiece event here.

"I had a really a bad fall and twisted my right knee about four weeks ago. I've a history with my knee as I tore my ACL when I was 15 so it was tough," said Lahiri.

"I didn't hit balls for 15 days. Monday was probably my fourth round in a month. I came in with no expectations and just wanted to enjoy my golf and that's probably what's happening out there today."

Lahiri also took a share of the first round clubhouse lead last year but he missed the cut after enduring a torrid time dealing with the weather conditions on the second day.

With a wealth of experience under his belt since his last outing at the majestic Swiss Alps, Lahiri is confident he will not suffer the same fate this year.

"It's nice to be back with a bang. It was a tough pill to swallow last year but I've learnt a lot from that. The weather was so much colder and it was a big adjustment for me. It was a harsh lesson but lesson for life nevertheless," said Lahiri, who traded five birdies and two eagles against one bogey.

Ganganjeet Bhullar and Jeev Milkha Singh also turned the spotlight on the sub-continent with their polished performances at the European Masters, which is the only tournament on European soil to be jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.

Bhullar, who was conferred the prestigious Arjuna Award, India's second highest sporting honour last week, showed why he is one of the most exciting prospects to emerge from India.

The 25-year-old, who holds four Asian Tour titles, got off to a flying start with two birdies in his opening four holes.

He dropped his only shot of the day on the 15th but recovered quickly with further birdies on holes 17 and one before signing for a 68.

Singh also put himself into the mix with a 68 and is relishing the opportunity to notch his second win in Europe this week.

"I'm pretty happy as my game's coming around after so many injuries. I'm feeling good and I look forward to a good week," said Singh, who was Asia's number one in 2006 and 2008.

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