Koh Samui, Thailand June 15: Thai veteran star Prayad Marksaeng brilliantly launched his quest for an unprecedented third Queen’s Cup title with a solid six-under-par 65 matched by rookie Chanat Sakulpolphaisan, Filipino Angelo Que and India’s Rashid Khan in the first round of the Queen’s Cup on Thursday.
The ageless Prayad, who won his 10th Asian Tour win eight days before his 51st birthday at the SMBC Singapore Open in January, soared with an eagle on the 12th hole along with five other birdies at the par-71 Santiburi Samui Country Club.
Countryman Chanat was equally impressive, with the 26-year-old shooting eight birdies against two bogeys while the effervescent Que nailed six birdies over his last seven holes to give himself a chance for a fourth career victory. The 38-year-old Que did not play a practice round after arriving on the holiday isle on Wednesday night.
Like Chanat, the slender Khan also posted eight birdies, including four in a row on his homeward nine, as he chases a third Asian Tour title in the US$500,000 tournament backed by Bangkok Airways and Sports Authority of Thailand.
Japan’s Daisuke Kataoka, Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung and Chinese Taipei’s Hung Chien-yao shared fifth place on 66 while India’s S.S.P. Chawrasia, who is second on the Order of Merit, is amongst those bunched on 67.
Title holder Scott Hend of Australia fought to a 71 in what is the 10th leg of the 2017 Asian Tour season.
Did you know?
- Prayad won the Queen’s Cup in 2013 and 2015. In four other appearances, he has finished in the top-10. In addition, he has finished top-five at Santiburi Samui in the Bangkok Airways Open from 2005 to 2008.
- Prayad’s victory in Singapore earned him his sixth British Open appearance in July and made him the second oldest winner on Tour. He was also victorious in his last two Japan Seniors Tour tournaments.
- Prayad shot one eagle, five birdies and one bogey. He took 27 putts, including eight one-putts. His eagle came courtesy of a wedge from 131 yards on the 12th hole.
- Chanat, who learned golf at the age of nine, earned his Asian Tour card by finishing right on the number in Qualifying School in January. He holed a 15-foot par putt the final hole to earn his Tour card.
- Chanat has won once on the Asian Development Tour at the 2015 PGM Nilai Springs Championship in Malaysia. He missed the cut in his first Queen’s Cup appearance in 2015 with scores of 82 and 77.
- Chanat was ranked number one in 2012 in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) during his junior college days in America following five wins. He then graduated from the Mississippi State University with a business degree and also won once on the National College Athletic Association (NCAA).
- After finishing tied 38th in the Bangladesh Open, Chanat missed the cut in the Yeangder Heritage in Chinese Taipei and Thailand Open. Chanat missed only three greens in regulation and took 26 putts, including 10 one-putts.
- Que, who is nicknamed Human Highlighter due to his liking for bright clothing, last won on the Asian Tour in the 2010 Selangor Masters in Malaysia.
- Que has played in only two Queen’s Cup previously, missing the cut in 2013 and finishing tied 44th in 2012.
- He finished tied fifth at the Japan Golf Tour Championship two weeks ago and also enjoyed a top-10 in Japan earlier this season where he also plies his trade.
“I know where to hit it to, where my targets should be. If I keep to my game plan, it becomes easy for me.” – Prayad Marksaeng
Prayad Marksaeng (Tha) – First Round 65 (-6)
Today I was lucky as my driver and irons were really good. On 12, I sank an eagle from 131 yards. Hit a good wedge that took one bounce before finding the hole. There was no wind this afternoon, but it didn’t really make it easy as it’s a tough course. Putted well on the first nine and then I missed some putts on the back nine. Three putted the 10th for my only bogey. It could have been a lower score.
The course here is very similar to the courses in Japan, which is very tight. That’s why I’m comfortable playing on this golf course after all these years. I know where to hit it to, where my targets should be. If I keep to my game plan, it becomes easy for me. When I’m on the greens, I know where the breaks are which is good.
Angelo Que (Phi) – First Round 65 (-6)
It was pleasing especially arriving only last night. I hit it pretty good. I was in good form two weeks before coming here. Pretty confident with my game and I was just trying to enjoy myself out.
It’s a tough course, if you think about it too much, golf is hard enough. If you think too much, you just get crazy. What we do is tough enough. You just take what you have and go with it. I started well and then made six birdies in my last seven holes. Just hitting good shots and making good yardages. I holed some putts …. golf is about making putts. I struggled with the putter for a few months and I think I sorted it out by changing putters. If it’s not me, maybe it’s the putter! Blame something else.
In Japan, I’ve been working on my game a lot, trying to figure out what I need to do to make it better. When I get a week off, I don’t play at all and I get a good rest. The yardage books are good enough that sometimes you don’t need a practice round. if you’re getting your numbers right and you’re hitting it good, you can play without a practice round. Some players don’t like taking that risk of not playing a practice round but I guess I’m a risk taker.
Chanat Sakulpolphaisan (Tha) – First Round 65 (-6)
I’m surprised myself. I’m kind of happy about this. I just tried to play my game and stay in the moment. I didn’t think about it too much. Hit the middle of the greens and holed some putts. Happy that most of them dropped in the middle of the hole. Today, my putting was good. You have to keep the ball in play to not lose some strokes here.
This is the first time I’m leading an Asian Tour tournament. I hope to keep the lead. I finished right on the number at Qualifying School in January. I made a good birdie on number four, holed a long putt from about 30 feet which was nice as the green slopes a lot there. I played here in 2015 and missed the halfway cut. I didn’t play good then and I couldn’t get into the tournament last year.
Scores after round 1 of the Queen’s Cup being played at the par 71, 6,851 yards Santiburi Samui CC course (am – denotes amateur):
65 – Chanat SAKULPOLPHAISAN (THA), Rashid KHAN (IND), Angelo QUE (PHI), Prayad MARKSAENG (THA).
66 – Daisuke KATAOKA (JPN), Nicholas FUNG (MAS), HUNG Chien-yao (TPE).
67 – Micah SHIN (USA), Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA), S.S.P CHAWRASIA (IND), Carlos PIGEM (ESP).
68 – Chirat JIRASUWAN (THA), Nitithorn THIPPONG (THA), Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA), Siddikur RAHMAN (BAN), Jakraphan PREMSIRIGORN (THA), Juvic PAGUNSAN (PHI), Danthai BOONMA (THA), Chinnarat PHADUNGSIL (THA), Prom MEESAWAT (THA), Tawit POLTHAI (THA), Naras LUANGPHETCHARAPORN (THA).
About Asian Tour
As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include ECCO (Official Footwear Sponsor), FENIX XCell (Official Apparel Supplier), Titleist (Official Web Partner), Bloomberg TV (Official International Media Partner), Bloomberg Businessweek Chinese (Official International Media Partner), Panasonic (Official Consumer Electronics) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). Sentosa, Singapore is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has an office in Kuala Lumpur.
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