Manassero among leading trio after day one in India

motorsport28 March 2024 17:34

Matteo Manassero continued his fine recent form to join Joost Luiten and Keita Nakajima at the top of the leaderboard after day one of the Hero Indian Open.

The Italian created one of the stories of the season earlier this month when he won the Jonsson Workwear Open for his first DP World Tour victory in almost 11 years, completing a remarkable comeback after losing his card in 2018.

His bogey-free 65 saw him sit next to early pacesetter Luiten and they soon had Nakajima for company as the Japanese came home in 30 to also get to seven under at DLF Golf & Country Club.

English pair Sam Bairstow and Jordan Smith were then one shot off the lead alongside Frenchman Romain Langasque.

© DP World Tour

Manassero may have missed the cut last time out in Singapore but he was back to his South Africa form in New Delhi, missing a good chance to tie the course record on the last.

He holed from 18 feet on the first and then birdied the fifth before adding another on the seventh and chipping in at the eighth for eagle.

A tee-shot to inside 20 feet on the par-three 12th then edged him closer to the top before a 12-footer on the 17th had him in a share of the lead.

"Today was a really special day," he said. "Every time a tournament starts there’s a blank page. You prepare but on a course like this things can go the wrong way very easily.

"Today from the tee and into the greens I was extremely solid, so I’m really pleased about that and the result with not making any bogeys on a course like this. Seven under par is really good."

Luiten is something of a specialist at DLF G&CC, having finished in a tie for ninth in 2018 and third last year in his two previous appearances.


After losing his card in 2022 following 12 consecutive years on Tour with six wins, he bounced back to finish 26th on the Race to Dubai Rankings in Partnership with Rolex and has three top-25s from seven starts so far this season.

The Dutchman set the target in the morning as he birdied the 12th, 15th, 17th and 18th to turn in 32.

He then sandwiched back-to-back bogeys on the third and fourth with a pair of gains and a further hat-trick of birdies to finish his round left him one ahead of the rest of the first wave.

"I have good memories from last year, I was struggling with my game before that but finished third in Thailand and then third here," he said. "I like this golf course, it’s very demanding and you just have to hit it straight. It suits my game, especially today."

Nakajima - who spent a record 83 weeks at the top of the World Amateur Golf Ranking - is playing his rookie campaign on the DP World Tour after topping the Order of Merit on the Japan Golf Tour last season.

He looked like he would be well off the pace after starting on the tenth as he birdied the 11th and 15th but dropped a shot on the 14th to turn in 35.

A gain on the first ignited his round, however, and further birdies on the second, fourth, sixth, eighth and ninth saw him fly up the leaderboard.

"I’m very happy with this score and I’m feeling very good," he said. "It’s a great course but I felt a bit nervous over the tee-shots. But I’m very comfortable with my swing and ball-striking.

"I’m very excited to be on the DP World Tour and very honoured to be playing with great players. I like travelling many countries."

Langasque had been in a share of the lead before a poor tee-shot on the last led to his only bogey of the day, while Smith eagled the 18th in a bogey-free round and Bairstow made eight birdies and dropped two shots.

Spanish pair Angel Hidalgo and Adrian Otaegui, German Jannik de Bruyn, Swiss Joel Girrbach, Dutchman Daan Huizing, Frenchman Jeong weon Ko and Paraguay's Fabrizio Zanotti were two shots off the lead.