Ajeetesh Sandhu gets off to a solid start in Spain, shoots 4-under 66

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Gran Canaria (Spain), Apr 22 (PTI) India's Ajeetesh Sandhu finished strongly with three birdies in last six holes for a solid four-under 66 that placed him T-16 even as half the field was yet to finish the first round at the Gran Canaria Lopesan Open at the Meloneras Golf Club here.

Sandhu, who played his first event outside India in more than a year last week and made the cut, had five birdies against one bogey in a fine display.

A one-time winner on Asian Tour, Sandhu, who has a lovely swing, had birdies on third and eighth on front nine with a bogey on Par-4 sixth. On the back nine, he birdied Par-5 13th, Par-4 16th and Par-5 18th, which meant he picked up birdies on two of the three Par-5s.

Of the other three Indians in the fray, only SSP Chawrasia had finished but had a disappointing day at four-over 74 with six bogeys against two birdies. Shubhankar Sharma was three-under through 11 holes, while Gaganjeet Bhullar was even par through 12.

Dutchman Joost Luiten, a multiple winner on the European Tour, but who has not tasted success since winning Oman Open in 2018, started with seven-under 65 which included an ace on 15th.

Luiten, who began on back nine, had an eventful start with birdies on 10, 12 and 13 and a bogey on 11th. A Par on 14 was followed by a hole-in-one on Par-3 15th. He bogeyed 17 to turn in three-under. On his second nine he had four more birdies against no bogeys for a 65.

Sharing the lead with Luiten was Danish golfer Joachim Hansen who had his breakthrough win at Joburg Open in November 2020. He shot a superb seven-under 65 that had four birdies on back nine, where he started and an eagle-birdie on fourth and fifth. PTI Cor SSC SSC SSC