Cejka upstages big guns for lead

Thu 12 Dec 2013

Cejka upstages big guns for lead

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Chonburi, Thailand, December 12: Germany’s Alex Cejka fired a magnificent eight-under-par 64 to lead by one shot from world number four Justin Rose of England and local hope Arnond Vongvanij after the first round of the Thailand Golf Championship on Thursday.
The widely-travelled Cejka, who has 10 career wins but not since 2002, was in irrepressible form at the Amata Spring Country Club, firing eight birdies for an unblemished card in the US$1 million full-field Asian Tour tournament.
Reigning U.S. Open champion Rose marked his debut in the star-laden event with a 65 which was matched by Arnond, who fired nine birdies against two bogeys on a day of low scoring.
India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar carded a 66 for fourth place while Swede Daniel Chopra enjoyed five birdies in a row  en route to a 67. Title holder Charl Schwartzel of South Africa signed for a 68, as did Spanish Ryder Cup star Sergio Garcia, Singaporean veteran Mardan Mamat and India’s Sujjan Singh.
Gaganjeet Bhullar of India and Marcus Fraser of Australia Gaganjeet Bhullar of India and Marcus Fraser of Australia
World number three Henrik Stenson of Sweden, 2012 Masters Tournament champion Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler of the United States opened their campaigns with matching 70s in the tournament featuring eight players from the world’s top-50 and offering a whopping 38 Official World Golf Ranking points to the winner.
The 43-year-old Cejka was delighted to upstage the stars on his first wedding anniversary with his wife, Alyssa. “Nice to shoot a good score on a good day,” said the German, who got married on the Thai holiday isle of Phuket.
“Last week I played a little bit better (finishing tied 12th in Hong Kong), and so far the form continues. We've got three more days to go. I feel good. Nothing's easy. It's a great field and it's a challenging course where you can shoot five-under but you can also shoot six-over here if you don't drive it well or if you're a little bit unlucky.
“You've got to keep grinding. I cannot sit back and just play for pars. I've got to just play the same golf I've been playing, and hopefully I make a couple putts or I don't make stupid mistakes. It's a long way to go and again, there're a lot of great players in the field.”
Rose was in total control of his game as he kept the bogeys off the card, sinking seven birdies to set the pace in the morning before Cejka’s fireworks in the afternoon session.
“It was an early alarm call this morning at 4.30. Didn't enjoy that part but once I got out here to the golf course it was a perfect morning for golf, and the type of morning you wanted to capitalise on,” said Rose, who has enjoyed 11 other top-10s around the world to go with his Major triumph.
“I feel like I'm reading the greens well. The greens are rolling true. I feel like I've got a good eye, good read for the greens, so that helps. Obviously, I got off to a great start. Who knows what the winning score will be, but you've just got to play one shot at a time, one hole at a time
Justin Rose of England Justin Rose of England
“My putting felt very sharp, especially for the first 12 or 13 holes. But also, you have to stay out of the rough. If you do hit the driver poorly, you are going to struggle,” he added.
Playing on his home course, the pint-sized Arnond outscored his playing partners Garcia and Fowler with a hot putter, needing only 23 putts. “Just from being out here quite a bit, I know what the green does,” said Arnond, who turns 25 on Sunday.
“The last few weeks I've been rolling the putter well but I haven’t pieced it all together. Some weeks I will hit it well and it will not go in and it's been frustrating. I'm happy to see it finally come together.”
Bhullar, who won the Indonesia Open for his fifth Asian Tour title two weeks ago, used a strong driving display where he hit all but one fairway en route to seven birdies against a lone bogey. It was his best round at Amata Spring after finishing 58th and 31st in the first two editions of the Thailand Golf Championship.
“This is the first time I'm enjoying a bit of the low 60s. There was a margin of improvement but three more days to work on, and I think it's a great opportunity for the Asian Tour players to compete against the big names,” said the 25-year-old, who is currently fourth on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit. “It was a steady round. I hit about 15 greens in regulation and drove the ball really good.”
The dashing Bhullar has had a topsy turvy run of form of late. After finishing last at the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf in Australia, he went on to win in Indonesia in the following week and then missed the halfway cut at the Hong Kong Open last week.
“I'm due for a good week,” he smiled. “(But) I'm glad that this is the last tournament of the season. This is my 13th straight event. I'm just dying to board the aircraft which is to New Delhi back home.”
An in-form Schwartzel, who has  won once and enjoyed two other top-10s in his last three starts, was disappointed he dropped two shots with three-putt bogeys.
“Yeah, felt like I hit the ball pretty decent. Just the putting let me down. But those are not major problems. I've been putting well for quite a long time. If I can keep hitting the ball decent and give myself chances, go work on the putting a bit, it's a decent start.  It's in red numbers and it's a long way to go,” said the world number 17.
Charl Schwartzel of South Africa Charl Schwartzel of South Africa
Scores after round 1 of the Thailand Golf Championship 2013 being played at the par 72, 7,488 Yards Amata Spring CC course (a- denotes amateur):
64 - Alex CEJKA (GER).
65 - Justin ROSE (ENG), Arnond VONGVANIJ (THA).
66 - Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND).
67 - Daniel CHOPRA (SWE).
68 - Charl SCHWARTZEL (RSA), Sergio GARCIA (ESP), Mardan MAMAT (SIN), Sujjan SINGH (IND).
69 - Marcus FRASER (AUS), Thammanoon SRIROJ (THA), Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA), Angelo QUE (PHI), Masahiro KAWAMURA (JPN).
70 - Elias BERTHEUSSEN (NOR), Antonio LASCUNA (PHI), Rickie FOWLER (USA), Henrik STENSON (SWE), Bubba WATSON (USA), Alexander LEVY (FRA), Namchok TANTIPOKHAKUL (THA).
71 - Pawin INGKHAPRADIT (THA), Hunter MAHAN (USA), Mars PUCAY (PHI), Thongchai JAIDEE (THA), Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA), Wade ORMSBY (AUS), Marcus BOTH (AUS), C. MUNIYAPPA (IND), Prom MEESAWAT (THA), Jaakko MAKITALO (FIN), Lionel WEBER (FRA), Steve LEWTON (ENG), Anirban LAHIRI (IND), Jason KNUTZON (USA), Chawalit PLAPHOL (THA), Mithun PERERA (SRI), HUNG Chien-yao (TPE).
About the Thailand Golf Championship
The primary organizers of the event are Gulf Sports Management, the Asian Tour and IMG. They have been well supported by both government and private organizations such as Siam Commercial Bank, Gulf JP, Toyota, Tourism Authority of Thailand, PTT Public Company Ltd, PTT Global Chemical Public Company Limited, PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Limited, Airports of Thailand Public Company Limited, Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, Thaioil, IRPC, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Omega, Nooter / Eriksen, Samithivej Hospital, Starwood, CNN, SuperSports, Heineken, Ricoh, Graham Beck Wines, EST Cola, Panasonic, Srixon, Central Pattana, Bangkok Post and Amata Spring Country Club.
Thailand Golf Championship tickets are available at Thaiticketmajor at Baht 300 each for Round 1 and 2 (December 12 and 13). The price for Round 3 (December 14) is Baht 400, and for the final day on December 15 the price is Baht 500. A 4-day package ticket is only Baht 800. Children below the age of 16 and senior citizens 60-years-old and over can enjoy Thailand Golf Championship for free. Special offers for SCB Credit Card, PTT Blue Card, SPG Member Card and Samitivej Patient and Staff Card holders are available till December 11, 2013. Please call 02-262-3456 or visit www.thaiticketmajor.com for details.
About the Asian Tour
In 2013, the Asian Tour will celebrate a momentous milestone with its 10th season. 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 Abacus (Official Apparel Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Saxo Capital Markets (Official Statistics Partner), Singha Beer (Official Beer), Srixon (Official Ball), Subway (Official Quick Service Restaurant), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and Resorts) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Also, visit us at www.asiantour.com, www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf, www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf, www.youtube.com/theasiantour and www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf
Ends