Kiradech makes a strong start at Turkish Airlines Open

Fri 02 Nov 2018

Kiradech makes a strong start at Turkish Airlines Open

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By V Krishnaswamy

Antalya, Turkey, November 1:  Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat one of the fancied stars lived up to his billing despite a bogey on his last hole, as he carded five-under-par 66 to lie in a bunch of seven stars tied in fifth place, at the end of the first round of the Turkish Airlines Open on Thursday.

He was just two shots behind the leader, Irishman Paul Dunne, who carded a flawless seven-under-par 64. Right behind Dunne was a trio lead by defending champion Justin Rose of England, who needs to win this week to become World Number One, with an eagle and four birdies. Also tied in second place on matching 65s, were Irishman Padraig Harrington, who is the front runner for the Ryder Cup captaincy for 2020 and Sweden’s Thorbjorn Olesen.

Malaysia’s Gavin Green, winner on the European Tour this season, had three birdies in four holes around the turn and carded a 67 as did Matt Wallace of England, winner of the Hero Indian Open among his three wins this season. They sit in tied-12th.

India's Shubhankar Sharma, Australia’s Wade Ormsby and Korea’s Wang Jeunghun scored one-under-par 70 each to sit in tied-32nd, while Australia’s Scott Hend (73) faded away after two early birdies.

Kiradech admitted it was an interesting day with seven birdies and two bogeys. He said, "A few birdies and a couple of dropped shots, which is easy to make here. Missed the putt from four feet and didn't get up-and-down on 17. Overall, I am still in good shape."

He added, "I just want to keep hitting fairways and greens because I know my putting is quite well from last week and I feel like I've got my A Game back and I'm striking the ball quite well. Not absolutely perfect but still in play."

On finishing in fourth place last week, "It is always nice to have a good start before the event at the end of the year. I have to climb up the Top-10 to Race to Dubai. It not easy because there's a lot of great players, top players up there, and I have to play really well. It's a good start last week, and three more weeks to go, and the way I played the opening round is on my side."

Green said, "It was just solid playing, hitting fairways, and when we were out, we just kind of played back in play. Took my two putts. I had a couple of 3-putts, which is kind of a bummer, but nevertheless, I made some pretty crazy up-and-downs. So, I'll take it four-under-par any day on this course."

He summed up, "Very pleased with a 67. Just kind of grinded away and made some putts. Made some clutch up-and-downs and obviously made some birdies."

Sharma, leading the race to become the Harry Cotton Rookie of the Year 2018 on European Tour, said, "I gave away two silly bogeys early, first with an errant shot and then a three-putt from 15 feet on fifth. I got one back on seventh as I was steady and played well thereafter especially between 10th and 12th where I had three birdies. The last hole bogey was a disappointment and left a bitter taste, as I hit a poor chip and missed the longish par putt."

But he felt that he had hit the ball well and loved the course. "This course is excellent and very beautiful. The weather was fine and I just missed out a couple of shots there with errors, but it is just the first day. The greens were much faster than on practice days and after a few holes I had adjusted."