India’s Shiv Kapur landed four birdies on the back nine, including three in the last four, to lie tied fourth with a five-under card at the star-studded $5 million Saudi International Golf Championship here Thursday.
Kapur was lying T-4th alongside former world no 1 Dustin Johnson and the latest Asian Tour Order of Merit winner, Kim Joohyung, who also shot 65 each.
Kapur, who turns 40 in less than 10 days, carded 65 and was three behind surprise leader Italian Matteo Manassero (62). England’s Sam Horsfield and Spaniard Adri Arnaus carded 64 each and were tied-second.
Indian golfer Rashid Khan too had a good comeback after a sedate front nine for a round of four-under 66 that placed him T-12.
Shubhankar Sharma, runner-up at the Abu Dhabi Championship last month, looked in great form with three birdies on the trot in his first four holes after starting from the 10th.
Sharma then parred the next 10 before dropping a shot on sixth, which he made up with a birdie on Par-3 eighth, his penultimate hole. He was lying T-23rd.
Saudi International Golf C’Ship: Shubhankar top Indian as Dustin Johnson leads field
Among other Indians Veer Ahlawat (71) is tied at one-over alongside Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood, Khalin Joshi (74) shot four-over, while Viraj Madappa was one-under after 15 and S Chikkarangappa was even after 15.
Kapur, now based in Dubai, who also returned COVID positive during the break, said, “It was a pretty steady round. Nothing brilliant, just lots of fairways and greens. A couple of greens that I missed narrowly, I managed to get up and down. I never really put myself in trouble, so you know it was one of those sort of stress-free rounds – fairways and greens and give myself chances.”
Kapur, who spent a little over 11 years between his first and second Asian Tour wins in 2005 and 2017, had three successes in 2017. Since then he lost a play-off in Thailand and a good start this week should renew his confidence.
He began with a birdie on fourth but gave it back in sixth only to get another birdie on ninth.
On the back nine of the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, Kapur birdied Par-3 11th and then further gained on 15th, 16th and 17th. It was a rare occasion when he missed the fairway on 18th and made only a par.