Chanat charges into early lead #QueensCup

Thu 15 Jun 2017

Chanat charges into early lead #QueensCup

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Koh Samui, Thailand, June 15: Asian Tour rookie Chanat Sakulpolphaisan stole the early thunder at the Queen’s Cup with an impressive six-under-par 65 for the first round clubhouse lead on Thursday.
The 26-year-old Thai, who came through Qualifying School in January right on the number, made eight birdies against two bogeys at Santiburi Samui Country Club to lead by one stroke from Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung and two-time Japan Tour champion Daisuke Kataoka.
American Micah Lauren Shin and Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond are a further shot back with matching 67s in the US$500,000 tournament.
Nicholas Fung of Malaysia Nicholas Fung of Malaysia
Title holder Scott Hend of Australia and India’s S.S.P. Chawrasia, second on the Order of Merit, are featuring in the on-going afternoon session.
Chanat wielded a hot putter, taking only 26 strokes on the greens and made 10 one-putts, to lead an Asian Tour tournament for the first time in his fledgling career. The 26-year-old, who graduated from Mississippi State University in 2014, used a lengthy 30-foot birdie on four to kick start his round.
Fung, chasing a first Asian Tour victory, battled sickness to open his campaign with a 66 which included a glorious eagle on 18 while Kataoka, third in the Queen’s Cup in 2013, sank seven birdies against a lone bogey to move into contention.
The Queen’s Cup, backed by Bangkok Airways and Sports Authority of Thailand, is offering its highest prize fund of US$500,000 this year in what is the tournament’s ninth edition.
Players Quotes
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. Before I went to college in the US, I played for the Thai national team although I didn’t quite get into the Southeast Asian Games. I represented Thailand in the World Amateur Championship in Australia. I then attended Mississippi State University from 2010 to 2014. I turned professional immediately and then played on the Asian Development Tour for two years which helped improve my game a lot. Hopefully it will continue to help me in the future.
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.
At the Qualifying School, I think I was like 11-under after the third round which put me around the number to get my card. I was like three under after 12 on the last day and parred all the way in. It was very nervous. I had a long par putt on the last hole on the ninth which helped me get my card. I holed a putt from about 15 feet. I didn’t know what the situation was and I just tried my best and it went in and it proved to be important.
I’ve played three tournaments so far and just made one cut in Bangladesh. I learned golf at around nine, just followed my brother who was a golfer. I just loved golf and tried to become better and wanted an education as well which was the reason why I went to the US. It definitely helped me a lot, gave me a lot of opportunities to compete with the top college golfers. I won five times on the NJCAA and won once on the NCAA. Back then, the guys who were in college were the likes of Justin Thomas, Daniel Berger and Smylie Kaufman.
Nicholas Fung (Mas) – First Round 66 (-5)
I’ve been playing bad recently as I’ve been changing my swing. I’ve also been sick for the past 10 days with a really bad sore throat. I didn’t want to think too much about this week and just decided to go out there to play. You need to hit it straight on this course which is an advantage for me as I keep it quite straight.
Started well but couldn’t make the putts. Hit it really close with a four iron to about three feet for my eagle on 18. From there, I got some momentum and my confidence just started to come back.
I wanted to gain more distance with my drives. I’m a pretty average with distance although I’m straight all the time. I need more distance if I want to think about playing in Europe. It’s not a drastic change, just making adjustments with the swing path a bit.
I’m working a lot with Steven Giuliano which has been good. I’m staying more often in KL these days to see him regularly and he’s also been motivating me. At the range I’ve started to gain about eight yards with the drives. The goal is to get 15 yards added to my driving distance.
This course is not long. You have to hit it straight all the time and make some putts. With the swing changes, I can see that my feel is starting to come back and hopefully a win on Tour will also come soon.
Daisuke Kataoka (Jpn) – First Round 66 (-5)
I made six birdies and bogeyed 14. On the front nine, I hit it really good. Missed a lot of birdie chances early on before holing a long birdie on five. After that, I started to putt really nicely and made a few more birdies. I’ve been playing well in Japan, so my game feel goods. My shots were really nice and only made a miss on 14 for my only bogey. Otherwise, I was always in play.
I always enjoy coming here. The course is very tight which I really like. I like the course and outside the course, we enjoy good seafood and the hotel is also nice. I always feel happy when I’m over here. I finished third here in 2013 which is why I feel confident coming back.
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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