Italy’s Matteo Manassero set the clubhouse target in the weather-affected Hero Indian Open, but England’s David Horsey was on course to claim top spot in New Delhi.
Manassero carded a four-under-par 68 at DLF Golf and Country Club before play was suspended due to the threat of lightning, the delay of 94 minutes meaning 67 players were unable to complete their opening rounds. Among them was Horsey, who had birdies on the second, sixth, ninth, 11th and 12th to reach five under par after 15 holes when darkness brought play to an end.
Manassero was the youngest winner in European Tour history when he claimed the Castello Masters in 2010 aged 17 years and 188 days and added further titles in each of the next three seasons.
The last of those came in the prestigious BMW PGA Championship in 2013 and helped Manassero reach a career-high of 25th in the world, but the 23-year-old is currently 336th after just two top-four finishes since the start of 2014.
“I started well, which was important because I have been three weeks at home and to come back to a tough course like this, it’s never easy,” Manassero said. “So the fact that I found a lot of birdies, it’s very, very positive and I’ll try to keep it that way.”
Manassero and Eddie Pepperell were the only players so far to break 70 on the 7,657-yard Gary Player Course, which produced winning totals of level par and three under par respectively in the Hero Women’s Open in 2015 and 2016. Pepperell lost his card last season before regaining it at the qualifying school, but came into the event on the back of four consecutive missed cuts in 2017.
“My confidence has been a little low this year, I haven’t been playing as well as I know I can,” Pepperell said. “Actually, I’ve done nothing well. So to go out there today and putt better and hit the ball better generally was uplifting.
Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher was one under afer 16 holes when play was stopped, with compatriot Scott Jamieson on the same score having completed 13 holes.