THAI SHOOTS 62 FOR SHARE OF LEAD AT THAILAND OPEN Rattanon SCORCHES course CHACHOENGSAO - BABY-FACED Rattanon Wannasrichan put on a spectacular putting exhibition to fire 62 for a share of the lead with Bangkok-based Janne Kaske of Finland after the opening round of the US$300,000 Thailand Open at the Thai Country Club yesterday.
The 21-year-old, fresh from scoring his best finish on the Asian Tour with a fourth place at the Yeangder Heritage in Taiwan, started his round with four straight birdies before firing six more against a lone bogey on the 12th at the par-71, 7,097-yard course.
“I was putting incredibly well, especially on the front nine where I made just one putt on every hole,” said the former SEA Games gold medallist. “I’ve competed on this course many times before and I love the greens here,” said Rattanon, who has recorded some impressive results, including a tied fourth place in Bangladesh and several top-10 finishes on local tours, since signing up with new coach Lervit Boonsombat in January.
“He adjusted my swing a little bit which made me more confident,” said Rattanon, who is hoping to become the fourth Thai to win the prestigious King Bhumibol trophy. “I’m more determined to win this week because of the prestige associated with the event. I took a break from competition last week to work hard with my coach. I hope to keep putting this way and fix my irons a bit for the next round,” said Rattanon.
Kaske, who lives in Thailand and has been active on the All Thailand Tour, had nine birdies and an eagle on the seventh against two bogeys for a career-best 62. Familiarity with the course helped the Finn, who had played 15 rounds before entering the tournament.
“I feel great. To be honest I have been playing really badly in the past couple of months. I had some good practice sessions at the beginning of the week and started finding my game. I feel that even if I’m not 100 per cent I still can shoot a pretty low score,” said the two-time Asian Development Tour winner, playing here on a sponsor invite.
Thailand’s Panuphol Pittayarat played solid golf for a 64 and third position. “This has been my home course for the last three weeks. The conditions keep changing as it’s been raining a lot. But I really enjoyed the course and the weather was fantastic in the morning,” said Panuphol.
Former champion Prayad Marksaeng, one of the pre-tournament favourites, followed a stroke behind at 65 along with India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar.
“I started well but felt a bit sluggish on the back nine, probably because of the humidity. However, six-under in the first round is not a bad score. If I hit low scores on Friday, I can set myself in a good position to win,” said the 51-year-old, who won the event in 2013.