Both Takes Pole Position

Thu 05 Feb 2009

Both Takes Pole Position

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Bangkok, February 5: Australia?s Marcus Both set the early pace at the season-opening Asian Tour International when he blasted an eight-under-par 63 to take the first-round lead at the Suwan Golf and Country Club on Thursday.
Japan?s Tetsuji Hiratsuka, who had earlier taken the morning lead is a single shot back in second place on 64 while Singapore-based Australian Unho Park and India?s Rahil Gangjee are tied for third after posting matching 65s.
Japan?s Kodai Ichihara, Finland?s Toni Karjalainen, Korea?s Mo Joong-kyung and India?s Gaganjeet Bhullar are all further trailing closely behind in tied-fifth on 66.
Both who finished tied-third at the inaugural event last year looks set to better his performance judging from his inspired performance where he recorded a total of seven birdies and an eagle en route to the day?s best score of 63.
The 29-year-old Australian recorded a birdie on the par-three 12th but quickly gave that shot back with a bogey on 13th.
But after making the turn at one-under, Both?s game came to life starting with an eagle three at the 550-yard par five, second.
He continued to reel in three consecutive birdies starting from the third to fifth holes before closing with another two birdies on the eighth and ninth.
?It?s a nice start especially for the first round of the year. I didn?t really hole much putts in the front-nine, but I just kept doing what I should be doing in my back-nine, kept it nice, holed a few putts and there we have it,? said Both.
?Probably the shot of the day for me was my second shot on the second hole at par-five. I used a three-iron and hit it to about 10-feet and made eagle. That really got me going after that,? added Both, who is seeking to end his Asian Tour title drought since 2003.
Meanwhile, Hiratsuka, who has four domestic victories on the Japan Golf Tour, also began his title charge at the US$300,000 full-field Asian Tour event with a flawless display of golf when he fired five birdies and an eagle two at the 439-yard par four, 16th.
The 37-year-old Japanese was simply at the top of his game despite the hot and humid conditions at the Suwan Golf and Country Club in the morning.
?It was really hot out there today but I?m happy to be playing well at the moment. My swing and putting were all working and if I can maintain this form, I?ll stand a good chance of winning,? said Hiratsuka.
Singapore-based Australian Park was also a visibly happy man when he returned to the clubhouse after carding a blemish free round that was highlighted by six birdies.
?I made some swing changes after talking to Andrew Welsford who?s also Chih Bing?s coach. We worked through my swing and although it?s still a little uncomfortable at the moment, I?m getting away with it with some good shots? said Park.
?I don?t really feel 100% yet, but I?m pleased with the way things are going now,? added the Australian.
Bhullar who finished right at the cut-line at 65th place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit last season, rued his chances of taking the outright lead in the morning after committing two costly bogeys on the ninth and 18th.
?I dropped two costly shots on the finishing ninth and 18th holes. But somehow I think I?m still hitting the ball really well. However, I think it?s too early to say what?s going to happen over the next few days,? said the young Indian.
Defending champion Lin Wen-tang of Chinese Taipei carded a 73 to finish in tied-108 place while Thailand?s Wisut Artjanawat was the best local performer after taking a share of ninth place on 67.
Leading first round scores
63 - Marcus Both (AUS)
64 - Tetsuji Hiratsuka (JPN)
65 - Unho Park (AUS), Rahil Gangjee (IND)
66 - Kodai Ichihara (JPN), Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND), Mo Joong-kyung (KOR), Toni Karjalainen (FIN)
67 - Wisut Artjanawat (THA), Juvic Pagunsan (PHI), Andrew Dodt (AUS), Gavin Flint (AUS), Danny Chia (MAS), Adam Groom (AUS), Wu Ashun (CHN), Hirotaro Naito (JPN)
Selected Scores
71 - Prayad Marksaeng (THA)
72 - Lam Chih Bing (SIN)
73 - Lin Wen-tang (TPE)
Ends.
About the 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 Carlsberg (Official Beer), ESPN Star Sports (Official Regional TV Broadcaster), Pin High (Official Apparel Partner), Ricoh (Official Office Solutions Provider), Sofitel (Official Hotel), TIME and FORTUNE (Corporate Partner) and Srixon (Official Ball). Sentosa, Singapore?s premier island resort getaway, is the Home of the Asian Tour.
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