Phachara chases leader Warren #MaybankChampionship

Thu 09 Feb 2017

Phachara chases leader Warren #MaybankChampionship

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Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, February 9: Thai teenage wonder Phachara Khongwatmai fired a solid seven-under-par 65 to trail first round leader Marc Warren of Scotland after the first round of the Maybank Championship on Thursday.
The 17-year-old Phachara, who has posted four top-five finishes in his last eight starts, nailed eight birdies against a lone bogey at Saujana Golf and Country Club’s Palm course to put himself in the hunt for a maiden Asian Tour title at the US$3 million showpiece sanctioned with the European Tour.
Marc Warren of Scotland Marc Warren of Scotland
Warren, 35, ended a glorious scoring day two strokes ahead of the the talented Thai, thanks to a flying 63 highlighted by one eagle and seven birdies as he chases a fourth European Tour victory and first since 2014.
Malaysia’s Arie Irawan was amongst a group of six golfers bunched on 66, three off the pace, after he carded a fine bogey-free 66. The 26-year-old was tied with Masters Tournament winner Danny Willett of England, American Peter Uihlein, Germany’s Marcel Siem, Australia’s Sam Brazel and India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar.
Korea’s Soomin Lee, who finished tied second in the inaugural Maybank Championship last year, put himself in position for another title crack with a 67 which featured five birdies on his card.
Interesting Facts for the Day

  • Warren posted two top-10s in 2016, with his best being a fifth place finish in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.

  • With seven birdies and one eagle for his 63, Warren equals his best first round score in his career.

  • Warren won the World Cup of Golf for Scotland in China in 2007, partnering Colin Montgomerie.

  • Phachara enjoyed his best finish on the Asian Tour Order of Merit last season in 14th position with four top-10s.

  • Phachara, whose name means “diamond” in Thai, finished tied second in the season-opening Singapore Open last month and qualified for the Open Championship.

  • Phachara’s eight birdies against one bogey for his 65 equals his career lowest round on the Asian Tour.

  • Phachara has two wins on the Asian Development Tour, the first in 2015 when he was 15 years old which makes him the youngest winner on the region’s developmental circuit.

  • Arie is a two-time winner on the Asian Development Tour. He missed out on his Asian Tour card at Qualifying School last month by one shot. His best finish on the Asian Tour was tied ninth at the Resorts World Manila Masters in 2014.

  • Arie suffered a shoulder injury last year after a motorbike accident. His first career victory on the local PGM Tour was in 2014 and it was titled sponsored by Maybank.

  • Amongst the leaders in the top-10, his 24 putts taken today was the lowest.

Arie Irawan of Malaysia Arie Irawan of Malaysia
Marc Warren (Sco) – First round 63 (-9)
Obviously it was good today, it was a good tee time nice and early before the wind picks up. I got off to a really nice start, six under for the first nine holes. Once the wind picked up on the back nine it was just a case of staying solid and hitting the greens. It was a bit of a battle on the last hole there, the tee shot was plugged in the bunker but it was nice to make five.
More of the same tomorrow. My iron play was very good and recently I have been making a lot of birdies but a lot of mistakes as well. It was nice to get around without a bogey. It is a tough golf course, especially with the wind and the heat and everything else, and grainy greens too. If you shoot a score of nine under you’re putting really well so I’ll take a lot of confidence from today and move on to tomorrow.
"I won’t force myself. If I can keep up with my good form, I will try my best to get a win on the Asian Tour this year." - Phachara Khongwatmai

Phachara Khongwatmai (Tha) – First round 65 (-7)
I’m very happy. I didn’t think I could shoot seven under. This course is a tough course. One or two under would be good and if I can make the cut, I’ll be happy. I didn’t think too much about making birdies. I wasn’t confident of putting the ball but they all went in.
I’m happy that I could keep my form steady from last year, so I’m more confident in 2017. I now feel confident playing anywhere and also my style is to be as relaxed as possible. If what I practice is right, then I will keep doing it. I’ve been practicing my putting a lot as I know putting is important to put on a score.
Singapore was a good week with a second place. Every week, I want to make the cut. Then I’m happy. I won’t force myself. If I can keep up with my good form, I will try my best to get a win on the Asian Tour this year.
Arie Irawan (Mas) – First Round 66 (-6)
I got off to a patient start, made the right decisions and then the birdies came. Made five in a row and another one on four. Just stayed in there. I made a 16 or 18 footer on 15 and hit it to three feet on 16, hit it to four and half feet on 17 and made a nine footer at the next. On one, I made a five footer. I was putting well and placing the ball in the right position. That’s when the birdies started.
I love this golf course. I’ve played here since my junior and amateur days. It’s one of my favourite courses to play. It’s great for the tournament to come back here. To make no bogeys here is great as if you can make a lot of birdies here to be in a good position.
I played good on the last day in Bangladesh (last week). I shot a 68 and no bogeys too. So I’m on a no bogey run for 36 holes which is good. I learned a lot from playing in Bangladesh and from playing in Qschool. Just finding ways to get better. The preparation for this week has been good. My caddie and I did a lot of good work and it helped.
Danny Willet of England Danny Willet of England
Danny Willett (Eng) – First Round 66 (-6)
It was good, it's always nice to get out early when you're in Malaysia. It was still roasting hot this morning but the wind stays calm for the first hour or so and allows you to get some shots in there nice and close. The wind picked up a bit towards the end and it plays a little trickier around here.
When it's this hot and the wind is swirling, if you can make it as stress-free as possible it's a little bit easier. You get frustrated out here and it becomes a long old day. Happy with the start.
Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind) – First Round 66 (-6)
I hit the ball really well and gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities. I think I hit 15 greens in regulation today and had some really close birdies. Drove it really well. Missed some shots in the middle of the round but after that the game was coming back on track. Just the first day and I’m feeling positive for the week.
I’ve been driving it good lately, hitting a lot of fairways. And I’ve been giving myself a lot of birdie opportunities which is the key factor this week. Greens here are small and if you’re on the green, you have good chance of scoring.
Scores after round 1 of the Maybank Championship being played at the par 72, 7186 Yards Saujana GCC course (am - denotes amateur):
63 - Marc WARREN (SCO).
65 - Phachara KHONGWATMAI (THA).
66 - Arie IRAWAN (MAS), Danny WILLETT (ENG), Peter UIHLEIN (USA), Marcel SIEM (GER), Sam BRAZEL (AUS), Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND).
67 - Soomin LEE (KOR), Lasse JENSEN (DEN).
68 - Richard T. LEE (CAN), Shubhankar SHARMA (IND), Romain WATTEL (FRA), Gavin GREEN (MAS), K.T. KIM (KOR), Robert KARLSSON (SWE), David LIPSKY (USA), Niall TURNER (IRL).
69 - Nino BERTASIO (ITA), Bernd WIESBERGER (AUT), LU Wei-chih (TPE), Alexander LEVY (FRA), Renato PARATORE (ITA), Thitiphun CHUAYPRAKONG (THA), Gregory HAVRET (FRA), CHAN Shih-chang (TPE), Prom MEESAWAT (THA), Anirban LAHIRI (IND), Lucas BJERREGAARD (DEN), Siddikur RAHMAN (BAN).
Maybank – Humanising Financial Services
Maybank is among Asia’s leading banking groups and South East Asia’s fourth largest bank by assets. The Maybank Group has an international network of 2,400 offices in 20 countries namely Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Hong Kong SAR & People’s Republic of China, Bahrain, Uzbekistan, Myanmar, Laos, Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia, Mauritius, Great Britain and the United States of America. The Group offers an extensive range of products and services, which includes consumer and corporate banking, investment banking, Islamic banking, stock broking, insurance and takaful and asset management. It has over 44,000 employees worldwide (
Gaganjeet Bhullar of India Gaganjeet Bhullar of India
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Lee Westwood of England Lee Westwood of England
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About Saujana Golf & Country Club
Founded in 1984, Saujana Golf and Country Club offers two 18-hole golf courses namely ‘Palm Course’ and ‘Bunga Raya Course’. These courses are exquisitely designed for championship play by the renowned golf course landscaped architect, Ronald Fream Design Group California, USA & Ted Parslow of E&G Parslow, Australia. The two world renowned courses, have been accorded countless international accolades including “The best Championship Course in Asia (Palm Course)” by Asian Golf Monthly 2005 and # 69 “Top 100 Best Courses outside the USA (Bunga Raya Course)”by Golf Digest 2005. Further voted in the World’s Top 1000 Golf Courses by Rolex & 6th Toughest Course in the World (Palm Course) by 2012. SGCC is the 15th Member of the exclusive European Tour Properties, only the third outside of Europe and the first in Malaysia to be an official European Tour Destination. Saujana Golf & Country Club is also nestled alongside the beauty of two hotels, namely The Saujana Kuala Lumpur and The Club Saujana Resort.