Slow and steady Thitiphun leads

Thu 12 Sep 2013

Slow and steady Thitiphun leads

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Taipei, September 12: Thai rising star Thitiphun Chuayprakong sensationally birdied the last two holes for a six-under-par 66 to take a one-shot lead in the opening round of the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship (TPC) on Thursday.
Thitiphun, who is searching for a first Asian Tour victory, sank a 10-footer eagle putt on his first hole to spark a remarkable round which included seven birdies against three bogeys at the Linkou International Golf and Country Club.
His playing partner Kim Gi-hwan of Korea was flawless in a round of 67 while Asian Tour rookie Sam Brazel of Australia and Chiragh Kumar of India returned with identical 68s at the US$500,000 Asian Tour event.
Reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand, who won the Yeangder TPC in 2010, was a further shot back in fourth place alongside Asian Development Tour graduate Hsu Mong-nan of Chinese Taipei and Australians Adam Groom, Matthew Stieger and Jake Higginbottom.
Kim Gi-whan of Korea Kim Gi-whan of Korea
Thitiphun, nicknamed ‘Tote’ by his friends which means slow because he does things in his own pace, rode on a hot putter when he sank two huge birdie putts from 25 feet on holes 15 and three.
“I eagled the 10th hole (started on the back nine) and from there I felt confident. I was lucky with the putter but I’m still not feeling very confident with my driver because I made a swing change two weeks before the start of this event,” explained Thitiphun, currently ranked 60th on the Order of Merit.
The 21-year-old Thai worked on his fitness during the off-season and hopes that it will put him in good stead as he aims for a first victory on the region’s premier Tour which is celebrating its 10th season in 2013.
“I worked hard during the break. I spent five to six hours practising golf and another hour and a half at the gym. I feel stronger now and I hope that this will help me win my first Asian Tour title. I was happy to see Pariya (Junhasavasdikul) win in Malaysia (in June) and I’m inspired to follow in his footsteps,” said Thitiphun.
The talented Kim, playing in his second year on the Asian Tour, birdied all the par fives to stay within range of Thitiphun. “My putting was really good. I made about 25 putts and stayed out of trouble. I’m really happy with my round which seemed a bit easier playing with my friend Thitiphun,” smiled the 21-year-old.
Kumar lived up to the adage ‘beware the sick golfer’ when he battled a flu to return with a 68 that was highlighted by an eagle-three on the 18th hole.
“I just told myself to grind it out because I was sick. That kind of helped because I wasn’t trying anything extra. I missed a lot of putts but stayed patient and didn’t let that affect me at all,” said the 29-year-old, who came into prominence when he finished second at the 2011 Indian Open.
Thai legend Thaworn, who holds an unprecedented 15 Asian Tour titles, was delighted to rediscover the form which won him three titles and the Order of Merit crown last season.
“This golf course is very difficult to play on. It can reward you and it can punish you. I started with a birdie, birdie start but finished on three-under. You can’t take anything for granted out here,” said Thaworn.
Chiragh Kumar of India Chiragh Kumar of India
Defending champion Gaganjeet Bhullar shot a 73 for tied 46th position. The Indian stands a chance to qualify for the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October if he can remain in the top-two position on the Order of Merit before the cut-off date on October 14.
Scores after round 1 of the Yeangder TPC being played at the par 72, 7125 Yards Linkou GcC course (a- denotes amateur):
66 - Thitiphun CHUAYPRAKONG (THA).
67 - KIM Gi-whan (KOR).
68 - Sam BRAZEL (AUS), Chiragh KUMAR (IND).
69 - Adam GROOM (AUS), Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA), Matthew STIEGER (AUS), Jake HIGGINBOTTOM (AUS), HSU Mong-nan (TPE).
70 - Rattanon WANNASRICHAN (THA), Panuwat MUENLEK (THA), Rahil GANGJEE (IND), Chan KIM (USA), SUNG Mao-chang (TPE), Timothy STEWART (AUS).
71 - LIN Kuan-po (TPE), Kieran PRATT (AUS), Berry HENSON (USA), Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA), Miguel TABUENA (PHI), Mardan MAMAT (SIN), LIEN Lu-sen (TPE), YEH Chang-ting (TPE), CHEN Hao-sen (TPE), CHAN Shih-chang (TPE), Antonio LASCUNA (PHI), Darren BECK (AUS), Koichi KITAMURA (JPN).
Ends.
About the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship
The Yeangder TPC is the brainchild of Yeangder Group Chairman Mr. Emmet Hsu. An avid golfer himself, he holds his own on the fairways as well as the boardroom. Mr. Hsu is a strong supporter for golf in Chinese Taipei and across the region. Apart from sponsoring the Yeangder TPC, Mr. Hsu also sponsors the Yeangder ADT and supports the leading Chinese Taipei players including Lin Wen-tang, Chan Yih-shin, Lin Wen-hong and Chan Shih-chang.
Inaugurated in 2010, the prize purse for the Yeangder TPC has grown from US$300,000 to US$500,000. The Yeangder TPC is a popular stop on the Asian Tour Schedule and it has welcomed many worthy champions such as Thaworn Wiratchant (2010), Lu Wei-chih (2011) and Ganganjeet Bhullar (2013).
The Yeangder Group has pledged to sponsor the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship (TPC) on the Asian Tour for a further three years until 2015.
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), Canon (Official Imaging 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.