Phadungsil sizzles with 11 under

Thai takes five-stroke lead on opening day; Chadha in tied second spot

Thailand’s Chinnarat Phadungsil scorched the Jaypee Green Golf Course with a sensational 11-under 61 to grab the lead on the opening day of the Avantha Masters here on Thursday.

The 25-year-old smashed 11 birdies, including seven on the back nine, to wrap up his best ever round. With wind at play in the morning, hitting was far from easy on the 7,347-yard course. Chinnarat mustered three birdies (3rd, 4th, 6th) on the front nine but was lucky to have the sun in full swing by the time he moved to the back nine. And then came the birdie onslaught.

The beaming Thai, who burst onto the Asian Tour by becoming its youngest winner with a triumph in the 2005 Double A International Open in Bangkok when aged 17 years and five days, was happy with the way he putted.

“Today my putter was very hot. From eight feet in, I didn’t miss a putt all day. I only had 22 putts all day,” said Chinnarat. “The weather was perfect for low scoring. I kept hitting my targets, on every hole. I’m a little surprised at how well I played.  On the front nine I was hitting a lot of hook shots, so my putter saved me. But on the back nine, I drove the ball better.”

Chinnarat's scorching round has left him five strokes clear -- only once has a bigger lead been held after the opening round of a European Tour event, by Michael Campbell at the Compass Group English Open.

Abhijit Singh Chadha, making his first European Tour appearance, finished best among the Indians at tied second place following a six-under 66. Giving him company are former Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Liang Wenchong, Thais Chapchai Nirat and Chawalit Plaphol, and Swede Magnus Carlsson.

 The 21-year-old Chadha carded six birdies in a bogey-free performance. In fact, he led midway through the opening nine before being overtaken. Starting on the back nine, he picked up shots on the 15th and 16th, before a nailing a hat-trick of birdies from the fourth hole.

“I played really well today. I made a lot of putts and hit the ball pretty decently.  I didn’t start off that well. I left myself about 15-20 feet on two holes for par. I made them and got my confidence going,” said the Chandigarh-based golfer.

Among other Indians, Rashid Khan was at tied seventh with five-under 67 followed by Ganganjeet Bhullar SSP Chowrasia and Anirban Lahiri, both tied 15 at four-under 68. Jeev Milkha Singh with seven birdies and four bogeys was off to a slow start to be 30th with three-under 69. Defending champion Jbe Kruger was in  tied 78th spot.

Leading scores (after 18 holes, Indians unless mentioned): 61: Chinnarat Phadungsil (Tha); 66: Magnus Carlsson (Swe), Abhijit Singh Chadha, Wenchong Liang (Chn), Chapchai Nirat (Tha), Chawalit Plaphol (Tha); 67: Thomas Aiken (SA), Scott Barr (Aus), David Drysdale (Sco), Joonas Granberg (Fin), Scott Hend (Aus), Rikard Karlberg (Sco), Rashid Khan (Ind), Jaakko Makitalo (Fin).

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