Wednesday 13 December 2017

Teen putting tip rockets serene Siem to top of pile

Marcel Siem, who shot a 64 in first round of Avantha Masters yesterday
Marcel Siem, who shot a 64 in first round of Avantha Masters yesterday

William S Callahan

USUALLY it's the tour professionals who offer a helpful tip or two to their playing partners in pre-tournament pro-am events -- yet Marcel Siem credited his sensational 64 in yesterday's first round of the Avantha Masters to a putting lesson he received from a teenage girl at DLF Golf and Country Club the previous afternoon.

As they played together in the pro-am, Siem was shown how to handle the heavily-grained greens in New Delhi by Vani Kapoor, just 16, who plays off scratch and was described by the grateful German as "probably the best female golfer in India."

"The greens here are a bit grainy and sometimes can be difficult for the Europeans to adapt to," Siem explained. "But I got a pretty good lesson from Vani. She was so aggressive on the greens, she showed me the way. I have to say, she was my putting inspiration and she is a very good player."

Siem (29) couldn't recall the last time he'd shot so low on Tour.

"It must be at least three years ago," he grinned after signing for a flawless eight-under-par round which left him one stroke ahead of Chan Yin-Shin of Chinese Taipei.

He's hoping his impressive performance yesterday could signal a change in fortune. Yet if Siem found a valuable ally in Kapoor this week, he'll have to overcome his own worst enemy -- himself -- if he's to win on Sunday.

The German has been blighted by a volcanic temperament. Siem showed once again yesterday he has the talent to go all the way in New Delhi, provided he doesn't let his temper doesn't get in the way.

Twenty five players broke 70 in idyllic sunshine yesterday on a course softened by recent heavy rainfall.

Ireland's best was Gareth Maybin, the pride of Ballyclare landing three birdies in the final six holes of his 70 to claim a share of 26th place.

Darren Clarke might have matched Maybin's effort had his 20-foot birdie attempt dropped at the last. Instead, the Ulster veteran had to settle for a share of 36th place on one-under, along with Shane Lowry and 19 others. Clara's Irish Open champion rounded off his 71 with an impressive birdie at 18. Though his well-struck second shot from the fairway sailed over the water and pulled up smartly some 22 feet short of the hole, Lowry gave himself every chance of eagle with an aggressive putt even young Kapoor would have been proud of.

He then coolly potted the four-footer back for his four.

Like Siem and Yin-Shin, Gary Murphy finished off his round with an eagle at nine, and boy did he need it.

After completing the back nine in level-par 36, the Kilkenny man endured a jarring run of four dropped shots in five holes from the fourth. So that three at nine left Murphy with a 74 and rekindled his hopes of making a cut which is likely to fall at level par or better.

Robert Jan Derksen finished off his round of 67 with four threes, including an chip in from the back fringe for an eagle at 18. The Dutchman was in a seven-way tie for third with, among others, Tour veteran Barry Lane (49) and his English compatriot John Perry (23), a team-mate of Rory McIlroy at the 2007 Walker Cup at Royal Co Down.

Avantha Masters, Live, Sky Sports 1, 9.0am

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