Kiradech and Hend stay close to McIlroy

Thu 31 Oct 2013

Kiradech and Hend stay close to McIlroy

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Shanghai, October 31: Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and  Australia’s Scott Hend, ranked first and second respectively on the Asian Tour Order of Merit stayed close to first round leader Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland after they returned with matching three-under-par 69s to take a share of eighth place at the US$8.5 million WGC-HSBC Champions on Thursday.
Kiradech, rated as one of Asia’s most exciting prospects to emerge in recent years, could have stolen the show by taking the lead if not for two costly double-bogeys on holes four and 15.
"It was a good start again today. I’m really happy with the seven birdies and I managed to hole a lot of putts.  The biggest mistakes I made were on the fourth where I hit a very poor drive and on 15th, I had a bad lie and made a double-bogey there again. But overall, I'm still happy with the way I started,” said Kiradech, who trails McIlroy by four shots.
Fresh off a tied-third finish in Malaysia last week, Kiradech’s stunning form showed no signs of waning and he is confident of putting up another superlative performance against the world’s best players at Sheshan International Golf Club.
“I think I have a good chance of finishing high again this week as I’ve lots of confidence from last week and I'm striking the ball really well right now,” said Kiradech.
Meanwhile Hend is also looking to extend his winning run with the help of his trusted caddie Tony Carolan, a former Asian Tour player.
“My partnership with Tony is and will always be fantastic! It's going to be a sad day for me when he goes back to playing himself,” said Hend of Carolan, who will be seeking a return to playing on the Asian Tour at Qualifying School next year.
Having started the year in 262nd place on the Official World Golf Rankings, Hend has soared up the rankings to 135th place, thanks largely to his treble of victories in Thailand, Chinese Taipei and Macau on the region’s premier Tour this season.
Hend believes a fourth win in Shanghai is still a huge possibility if he continues to take advantage of the 7,266-yard par 72 course with his big drives.
“This year is obviously going to be a little different because they renovated the course and the fairways are quite soft at the moment and so the ball is not going to travel very far at all,” said Hend.
“But having said that, if you can hit your driver pretty far and get the ball onto the fairways, it will make it a lot easier to try and make birdies,” added Hend.
India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar also posted a 69 to join Kiradech and Hend in eighth place with four other players that include England’s Paul Casey, Dustin Johnson of the United States, Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell and Asian Tour honorary member and International Ambassador Ernie Els of South Africa.
China’s Liang Wen-chong signed for a 72 for tied-39th place while Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee struggled to an opening 76 to share 70th place with Hu Mu of China.
Korea’s Baek Seuk-hyun posted a 81 to stay at the bottom of the leaderboard in tied-75th place at the year’s final World Golf Championship.
Ends.
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.