Newcastle (England) |Fresh from his second place finish at the Liv Series event in Bedminster, ace Indian golfer Anirban Lahiri carded a hat-trick of birdies on the back-nine to be placed tied 16th, the best among his compatriots, at the International Series England at Close House near here on Friday.
Lahiri was at one-under 70 that included a hat-trick of birdies from 14th to the 16th, as Thailand's Sarit Suwannarut fired an opening round of five-under-par 66 to take the lead in conditions that were cold and wintry.
There are as many as 15 Indians in the field and the next best Indian after Lahiri, was Ajeetesh Sandhu (71) at T-40.
The rest of the Indian contingent had a tough time with Rashid Khan (73) lying at T-71, veterans Jeev Milkha Singh and Jyoti Randhawa shooting 74, as did Khalin Joshi to be placed T-86th and in danger of missing the cut.
Further down were SSP Chawrasia and Shiv Kapur with 75 each and were T-103rd, S Chikkarangappa, Gaganjeet Bhullar and Kartik Sharma carded 76 each to be T-114 and Rahil Gangjee and Karandeep Kochhar scored 77 each to be T-128th.
Honey Baisoya (78) was T-138, as was Veer Ahlawat and Viraj Madappa (79) at T-148th spot.
Lahiri's card had five birdies against an early double on second and two other bogeys.
Thailand's Sarit fired six birdies and one bogey in cold conditions on the Colt Course to finish the day in front of American Jason Kokrak and Jaewoong Eom from Korea, who carded 67s each.
Germany's Dominic Foos and Suradit Yongcharoenchai from Thailand returned 68s each, while Ian Poulter was in group of 10 players on 69.
Sarit triumphed for the first time on the Asian Tour last year at the season-ending Indonesian Masters, but has struggled this year.
Kokrak, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour including two in 2021, finished strongly with birdies on 16 and 17.