Chiba Prefecture, Japan, September 21: Japan’s Tadahiro Takayama rode on a hot putter to sign for a stunning nine-under-par 62, grabbing the opening round lead by two shots at the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup on Thursday.
Takayama, a five-time winner on the local circuit, fired 10 birdies against a bogey to stay atop the leaderboard while Korea’s K.T. Kim, a two-time winner of the tournament in 2010 and 2015, lurks in second place following a 64.
Thai hotshot Pavit Tangkamolprasert’s calculated game plan paid off when he returned with a 65 to trail by three shots in third place alongside Ryuji Masaoka of Japan at the ¥150 million (approximately US$1.37 million) event.
The 28-year-old Thai, who played without a driver in his bag, took advantage of his pinpoint approach shots and acute short game to open up a round of seven birdies against one bogey at the Caledonian Golf Club.
Satoshi Kodaira of Japan, Younghan Song of Korea and South African Jbe Kruger shared fifth place after carding identical rounds of 66 at the event co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the JGTO.
Did you know?
- Takayama is a five-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO). His fifth and last victory came at the 2011 Casio World Open in Japan.
- The 39-year-old Takayama enjoyed a tied-21st place finish at the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup last year.
- Takayama needed only 23 putts around the greens for his opening 62.
- Pavit is the only player in the field without a driver in the bag this week.
- Pavit was crowned the Asian Development Tour (ADT) Order of Merit champion in 2014. He holds a total of five victories on the secondary circuit, sharing the record with Chinese Taipei’s Chan Shih-chang.
- Pavit won his first Asian Tour title at the 2016 Macao Open in sensational style by defeating Indian star Anirban Lahiri on the first play-off hole.
- Pavit sits in 55th place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit. His best result this season was a tied-11th place finish at the SMBC Singapore Open in January.
- Kim is a two-time winner of the Asia-Pacific Diamond Cup in 2010 and 2015.
- The 31-year-old Kim holds two titles on the Asian Tour and 13 titles on the JGTO.
“I surprised myself with 10 birdies today. The last time I played this course was 17 years ago in 2000. I only remembered the 18th hole before coming here so I am really surprised with how I played today.” – Tadahiro Takayama, 39
Tadahiro Takayama (Jpn) – First Round 62 (-9)
I surprised myself with 10 birdies today. The last time I played this course was 17years ago at the PGA Championship in 2000. I only remembered the 18th hole so I am really surprised with how I played today.
I didn’t play in Hokkaido last week. I am glad I didn’t because it was too cold. I was watching television at home and trying to get some rest and treatment for my back. I am hitting the ball better today and I made a lot of good putts.
I have been struggling with my putting this year. After playing in the matchplay event earlier, I started to feel that I really need to make more putts. I have been working on it since.
This golf course is pretty tight. I was able to keep my ball in good position today. I had a lot of chances for birdies as well. I missed only three fairways on the fourth, 10th and 15th holes.
I will try and make as many birdies as I can again tomorrow. Hopefully I can exceed my expectations. If I hit onto the wrong side of the course, it might get very tough so I need to keep the ball on the fairways.
K.T. Kim (Kor) – First Round 64 (-7)
I started playing well at the Fuji Sankei Classicvbut I struggled with my putting. I couldn’t make any putts so I missed the cut last week in Korea. I gave myself so much chances but I just can’t make any birdie putts.
I was practicing yesterday and I found something with my putting. I brought a total of six putters from Korea this week. I was just trying to rediscover that feeling.
But I did not change putter today. I am still using the same putter. I was able to judge the distance better today.
Once I start making the putts, I was able to hit 100 yards shot with confidence. It is easy with less pressure. I am happy because I made a lot of putts today.
I won this event in 2015. I was supposed to defend my title last year but I couldn’t because I was playing in the United States. I decided to play this year. I like the way the golf course is set up for this week’s Diamond cup.
Pavit Tangkamolprasert (Tha) – First Round 65 (-6)
I have been struggling with my driver for the last six to seven months. My tee shots haven’t been good. I have been trying to fix it but the feeling is still not good so this week, I decided to take my driver out from my bag.
I hit my three-wood instead. I hit it strong and it turned out well today. My iron-play and short game have been pretty good all year so I was able to card a low score. In Europe and in Korea last week, my errant tee shots have cost me a lot of dropped shots hopefully I can stay consistent this week.
I kept the ball in play today. I was able to hit the fairways and hit it close with my irons and wedges and making the putts. I got off to a great start which gave me some momentum and confidence heading into the round.
On hole seventh, I holed a 35-footer birdie putt from the front of the green. That gave me a lot of confidence. I struggled a bit on my last hole ninth after enduring a long wait for my playing partners who got into trouble with their tee shots.
But it’s alright. I am still very happy with how I played today. This course is pretty short so you just need to keep the ball in play and avoid the roughs out there. I play a lot with Prayad (Marksaeng) and he gave me some tips during our practice round.
He’s still winning a lot at his age. I have a lot to learn from him. He told me it’s not necessary to hit it that long in Japan. You just have to hit it on the right side but in Europe, it’s different. You need to hit it long in Europe because the courses are much longer over there.
That’s why I have been struggling with my tee shots. But having said, it was still good experiences gained playing in different courses and conditions across Europe and Asia.
Scores after round 1 of the Asia-Pacific Open Golf Championship Diamond Cup being played at the par 71, 7100 Yards Caledonian GC course (am – denotes amateur):
62 – Tadahiro TAKAYAMA (JPN).
64 – K.T. KIM (KOR).
65 – Ryuji MASAOKA (JPN), Pavit TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA).
66 – Satoshi KODAIRA (JPN), Younghan SONG (KOR), Jbe KRUGER (RSA).
67 – Shugo IMAHIRA (JPN), Keita NAKAJIMA (am, JPN), Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA), Daisuke KATAOKA (JPN), Chikkarangappa S. (IND), Michio MATSUMURA (JPN), Shunsuke SONODA (JPN), Yosuke ASAJI (JPN).
68 – Yoshinori FUJIMOTO (JPN), Shingo KATAYAMA (JPN), Brendan JONES (AUS), Lucas HERBERT (AUS), Sam CHIEN (USA), Adilson DA SILVA (BRA), Kosuke SUZUKI (am, JPN), Daisuke MARUYAMA (JPN), Poom SAKSANSIN (THA), Juvic PAGUNSAN (PHI), David OH (USA).
69 – Natipong SRITHONG (THA), Shaun NORRIS (RSA), Rattanon WANNASRICHAN (THA), Yujiro OHORI (JPN), Katsumasa MIYAMOTO (JPN), I.J. JANG (KOR), Keiichiro FUKABORI (JPN), Ben LEONG (MAS), Gregory FOO (am, SIN), HUNG Chien-yao (TPE), Matthew GRIFFIN (AUS), Sungjae IM (KOR).
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