Canizares and Whiteford share lead in Avantha Masters, Daly shoots 79

alejandro canizares
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Alejandro Canizares collected five of his seven birdies on the back nine Thursday.
By
PA Sport and Associated Press

Series: European Tour

NEW DELHI, India -- Alejandro Canizares of Spain and Peter Whiteford of Scotland each shot a 6-under 66 Thursday to share the lead after the first round of the Avantha Masters on the European Tour.

Whiteford made four straight birdies after the turn in a round that included a lone bogey on the fifth hole. The 31-year-old from Kirkcaldy was only 1 under at the turn, but started the back nine with four successive birdies and made another from 10 feet on the 358-yard 17th.

"It was the first time I've hit the fairways in months," said 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.

"It can bite you easily though if you're not careful," he added. "I had a bad one down the last, but apart from that it's mainly the driving that was loads better today."

Canizares, whose father Jose Maria kept the Ryder Cup in European hands at The Belfry in 1989 and was part of four Ryder Cup teams, also made a late run, collecting five birdies after turning in 34 as he also totaled seven birdies with one bogey. Canizares, 29, is looking for his second European Tour title after winning the Imperial Collection Russian Open in 2006.

"The only mistake I made was missing a short putt on the seventh. I had a couple of wayward drives, but nothing serious and I felt very comfortable," Canizares said. "Hopefully I can keep this going and be in contention going into the final round."

Federico Colombo of Italy was one stroke behind, while six players were another shot back.

John Daly had a 79, which included a triple-bogey 8 on the 14th and five other bogeys. Daly, who was fourth in Qatar two weeks ago, is next to last after a first round that included two penalty drops away from the trees on No. 14 and then a ball in the water en route to a closing bogey 6.

Afterward, Daly said he might have torn some ligaments in his right elbow during his round.

He said on Twitter that his ''elbow snapped'' when he played a shot on the ninth hole, and posted a photo with his right arm in a cast, saying ''no bones are broken, possible torn ligaments according to European Tour Docs--getting home for X-rays!''
 
His management company, Wasserman Media Group, says it is unaware if Daly has withdrawn from the tournament.

Whiteford finished 63rd on last season's European Tour money list, with five top-10 finishes, including third place at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa. He arrived in India after missed cuts in Qatar and Dubai, but made his only mistake on the 486-yard fifth, rated the toughest hole on the DLF Country Club course that last year saw local star SSP Chowrasia win with a 15-under total.

Canizares won in Russia in only his third Tour start as a professional and was twice involved in playoffs two seasons ago, losing first to Peter Hanson in Majorca and then to Miguel Angel Jimenez at the French Open.

Welshman Jamie Donaldson, seeking his first victory in the circuit in approaching 250 starts, is tied for fourth on four under with Indian Himmat Rai, Frenchmen Gregory Havret and Jean-Baptiste Gonnet and Thailand players Thongchai Jaidee and Kiradech Aphibarnrat.