Canizares, Whiteford share lead in India

Alejandro Canizares and Peter Whiteford under 66 Thursday to share the lead after the first round of the Avantha Masters.

Canizares' lone tour win was at the 2006 Russian Open, while Whiteford is looking for his first tour title.

Federico Colombo is alone in third place after carding a five-under 67 at DLF Golf and Country Club.

India native Himmat Rai carded a four-under 68 and was joined in third place by Jamie Donaldson, Gregory Havret, Thongchai Jaidee, Jean-Baptiste Gonnet and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.

Canizares opened with a birdie on No. 11, his second. After a birdie on the 15th, he parred the next three to make the turn at minus-two.

The Spaniard flew into the lead with four birdies through the first six holes on the front side. He faltered to a bogey at the par-four seventh, but atoned for that error with a birdie on the par-five ninth.

"It's always nice to finish on a high like that. I didn't hit a great wedge shot into the green, so it was nice to sink the putt," Canizares said. "I played very steady and I putted quite nicely. The only mistake I made was missing a short putt on the seventh, so I made a bogey. But overall it was a nice round with not many mistakes."

Whiteford got going with a birdie on the second. He gave that stroke back when he stumbled to a bogey on the par-four fifth and atoned for that error with a birdie on the par-five sixth.

Around the turn, the Scotsman poured in four consecutive birdies from the 10th to jump to minus-five. After a trio of pars, Whiteford birdied the 17th to gain a share of the lead.

"It was the first time I've hit the fairways in months. In the stats, I probably didn't hit that many fairways, but it felt a lot better," stated Whiteford. "I hit a lot more drivers than people usually do out there and just took advantage of the course and bullied it a little."

American Peter Uihlein, formerly the top-ranked amateur in the world, and India's Jeev Milkha Singh are among nine players tied for 10th at minus- three.

NOTES: Defending champion S.S.P. Chowrasia, who also won this crown in 2008, managed a one-under 71 and is tied for 33rd...Andrew Dodt, the 2010 champ, is the only other winner of this four-year-old event and he shares 47th at even- par 72...Joost Luiten, the highest-ranked player in the field at world No. 69, is tied for 19th at two-under 70.