Whiteford makes solid start
A year on from suffering heartache in India, Peter Whiteford is back in contention for a maiden European Tour title in the Avantha Masters.
Whiteford was challenging for victory 12 months ago at DLF Golf & Country Club when he was disqualified during the final round after television viewers spotted his ball move fractionally on the fairway in round three.
Replays of Whiteford's third shot to the 18th showed that his ball rolled a fraction before he played to the green, meaning he should have replaced it and taken a one-shot penalty.
Officials reviewed the matter as Whiteford began his final round and he was given the bad news just after dropping a shot on the third hole to lie one off the lead.
"I should have reviewed it," Whiteford said at the time after signing for a 72. "I'm not cheating. It's one of those things but disappointing."
Happier times could now be in store however, after Whiteford carded an opening 68 at Jaypee Greens Golf & Spa Resort in Noida, near New Delhi.
Birdies at the first, fourth, seventh and 16th gave Whiteford a flawless round of four under par, two shots behind early clubhouse leader Abhijit Singh Chadha, who also did not drop a shot in his 66.
"It's easy to forget about it (last year) until guys like you bring it up all the time," Whiteford told European Tour Radio. "It took me a while to get over it if I am being honest.
"It annoyed me for a good few months but that's all forgotten about now and hopefully I can press on."
As for today's round, the 32-year-old added: "I did not play that great off the tee, but if I can keep putting like that you don't have to hit it that close. I had a lot of chances and, apart from the 10th where I missed an easy one, every putt had a look (in the hole) on the way by."
Former Ryder Cup player David Howell matched Whiteford's 68 as he looked to continue the good form that has brought him two top-10s already this season.
And Alvaro Quiros also reached four under par on his return to action after a four-month lay-off due to a wrist injury before two late bogeys meant the big-hitting Spaniard had to settle for an opening 70.
Defending champion Jbe Kruger was one under after nine holes, but Colin Montgomerie was two over par heading into the back nine after following seven straight pars with dropped shots at the eighth and ninth.
Chadha led for a long time until Thailand's Chinnarat Phadungsil produced a stunning nine holes of golf to card an 11-under-par 61.
Phadungsil was only three under at the turn, but then birdied seven holes in succession from the 10th and, after a par on 17, birdied the 18th as well from three feet.
That meant a back nine of just 28 shots and a clubhouse lead of five shots as the round began drawing to a close.
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