Pratt powers Australia ahead at Ballantine's Championship

Thu 25 Apr 2013

Pratt powers Australia ahead at Ballantine's Championship

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Icheon, Korea, April 25: Asian Tour winner Kieran Pratt kept Australia’s flag flying high on the world stage again after carding a flawless five-under-par 67 to take a share of the first round lead at the weather-disrupted €2,205,000 (Approximately US$2.8 million) Ballantine’s Championship on Friday.
France’s Jean-Baptis Gonnet, Sweden’s Johan Edfors, England’s Matthew Baldwin and Korea’s Kim Gi-whan joined Pratt atop the leaderboard after they returned with matching 67s at the Blackstone Golf Club.
Thailand's Arnond Vongvanij returned in the morning to complete his remaining eight holes and moved to within a shot back of the leaders after a 68. He is tied for sixth with four other players that include Major winner Paul Lawrie of Ireland.
2010 Open Champion and world number seven, Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa is a further shot back in tied-11th place after posting an opeinng 69.
Pratt is no stranger to success, having won his maiden Asian Tour title in Myanmar last year.
The 25-year-old Australian, who was once ranked 15th in the World Golf Amateur Ranking, however knows he has to keep himself grounded to keep up Australia’s proud record of having wins in Thailand, India and the United States in the past two months.
“That's a great start, but the tournament probably starts on Sunday really.  So I'll try to get myself into position to contend and then we'll go from there,” said Pratt, who is among the 10 Australians from the Asian Tour competing at the Ballantine’s Championship this week.
Edfors, who has triumphed twice on the region’s premier Tour in China and Thailand in 2006 and 2009 respectively, is determined to return to his winning ways having made only two cuts in seven appearances on the European Tour so far this year.
“I had a really tough year last year both on and off the golf course but I've done my preparation really well this year.  I've done all the practice that is needed and I guess I now need to be patient to make it happen and I did that well today,” said Edfors.
The Swede started well when he birdied the third and fourth holes before picking up further shots on the sixth, eighth and ninth holes.
Edfors’ momentum was then halted by the play suspension which forced players off the course for over two hours.
The Swede resumed play on the par-four 11th with a bogey and could not extend his advantage for the outright lead after coming home with an inward 36.
“I was really happy I came out of the block pretty good there on the front nine, five-under and played some really, really good golf.  Then we had the fog delay there, and I didn't really sleep very much last night, so I was a bit tired when we started playing again to be honest,” said Edfors.
“I then started off with a bad three-putt and only managed to make one birdie coming in.  So I was a bit disappointed with my back-nine but overall it was really a good start,” added Edfors.
Arnond got his morning off to an encouraging start when he returned to birdie the 14th and 15th holes to stay close to the leaders after the first round.
"It’s a beautiful morning for me. It was a little chilly this morning but when the sun came up, it was really nice.  It was also nice to have made some putts and play well," said the one-time Asian Tour winner.
The Thai is aware of the chilly conditions that will persist throughout the week and is hopeful of overcoming them.
"With the weather being colder, it’s definitely tougher as you have less feel on your hand and it’sharder to move around. The course plays a little longer and overall with this weather, it’s definitely tougher," said Arnond.
"I’m just going to stick to my game plan and play my shots to the green and hopefully it’ll work out again," added the Thai.
Asian Tour honorary member Y.E. Yang found himself trailing behind the leaders by three shots after an opening 70.
Yang, who earned the distinction of being Asia’s first Major winner when he won the PGA Championship in 2009, will have to tame the elements if he wants to earn another honour of being the first Korean to win the Ballantine’s Championship.
“I’m quite used to the hot weather of Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, and also the chilly weather of Korea and the United States,” said Yang.
“I know that as a golf player, I need to overcome those difficulties, including the weather conditions and prepare myself to perform well. However, it was tough today and it was not that easy out there,” said Yang.
The sixth edition of the Ballantine’s Championship will be the first event to be played in Korea on the Asian Tour this season and is once again sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and Korea PGA.
Leading scores after round 1 of the Ballantine's Championship 2013 being played at the par 72, 7281 Yards Blackstone Gc course (a- denotes amateur):
67 - Jean-Baptiste GONNET (FRA), Johan EDFORS (SWE), Kieran PRATT (AUS), KIM Gi-whan (KOR), Matthew BALDWIN (ENG).
68 - Peter LAWRIE (IRL), LEE Jung-hwan (KOR), Tommy FLEETWOOD (ENG), JUNG Ji-ho (KOR), Arnond VONGVANIJ (THA).
69 - David HOWELL (ENG), Rikard KARLBERG (SWE), RYU Hyun-woo (KOR), KIM Dae-sub (KOR), Ricardo GONZALEZ (ARG), Fabrizio ZANOTTI (PAR), Javier COLOMO (ESP), Louis OOSTHUIZEN (RSA), Alejandro CANIZARES (ESP), Keith HORNE (RSA).
70 - Espen KOFSTAD (NOR), Y.E. YANG (KOR), Stephen GALLACHER (SCO), Marc WARREN (SCO), Romain WATTEL (FRA), HWANG Jung-gon (KOR), Berry HENSON (USA), Peter WHITEFORD (SCO), Pablo LARRAZABAL (ESP), Marcus FRASER (AUS), Lee SLATTERY (ENG), Wade ORMSBY (AUS), JOO Heung-chol (KOR).
Selected scores:
71 - Bernd WIESBERGER (AUT), S.S.P. CHOWRASIA (IND), Richie RAMSAY (SCO), Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA), Shiv KAPUR (IND)
72 - BAE Sang-moon (KOR), Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND), ZHANG Lian-wei (CHN).
73 - Jeev Milkha SINGH (IND)
Ends.
About Ballantine’s
Ballantine’s is the No 2 ultra-premium Scotch whisky in Asia, No 1 Scotch whisky in Europe and the range sells over 70 million bottles a year worldwide. Ballantine’s has won more than 129 trophies and medals at international competitions in the past 10 years for quality, as a result of its unique richness of character and perfect balance. The range, from Ballantine’s Finest to the exclusive 40 Year Old, is the most extensive in the world of Scotch and is maintained by the latest in a tradition of Master Blenders that dates back to 1827.
•          Ballantine’s has been title sponsor of the Ballantine’s Championship since 2008
•          Ballantine’s is an official sponsor of the BMW Masters, The Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open & The World Cup of Golf
•          The first Ballantine’s sponsored golf tournament was played in 1960 at Wentworth Golf Club, England
About Chivas Brothers
Chivas Brothers is the Scotch whisky and premium gin business of Pernod Ricard – the world’s co-leader in wine and spirits. Chivas Brothers is the global leader in luxury Scotch whisky and premium gin. Its portfolio includes Chivas Regal, Ballantine’s, Beefeater Gin, The Glenlivet, Royal Salute, Aberlour, Plymouth gin, Longmorn, Scapa, 100 Pipers, Clan Campbell, Something Special and Passport Scotch.
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), BlackBerry (Official Communications Partner), Canon (Official Imaging Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Saxo Capital Markets (Official Statistics Partner), Singha Beer (Official Beer), Srixon (Official Ball), 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