Tight at the top at Royal Cup
Pattaya, Thailand, December 28: Five players carded four-under-par 67 to share the lead after round one of the Royal Cup, which is contested at the Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club in Pattaya, Thailand.
To put things into perspective, 27 golfers are within three shots of the lead.
Newlywed Gaganjeet Bhullar of India enjoyed a bogey free round, highlighted by birdies on holes six, seven, 10 and 11. The 29-year-old Indian did not have ample time to prepare for the US$500,000 tournament as he arrived in Thailand the previous night. However, he played on the same course last year and after five holes, he adapted to the set up.
“I had a good, stable round. I hit the ball really well. I gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities but because I misread the speed of the greens, I missed some of them. Overall, it’s a decent start to the tournament,” said Bhullar.
“I actually played without a practice round as I arrived last night, but because I played here last year, I have a rough idea of what’s going on at the course. It took me a few holes to get used to the speed and the slopes. By hole five, I was a little more confident and comfortable. I’m looking forward to the next three days.
“My chip-in on seventh was quite special. I hit a six-iron and I just missed pin high right, on the right edge of the green. It was a tricky, quick chip and I was fortunate enough to hole it.”
Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand was in a similar situation as Bhullar and enjoyed a similar result. The Thai hotshot did not let the wet course conditions affect his swing and rhythm, as he traded five birdies against just one bogey to sign for a 67.
“I am happy with my first-round score. I had a little time to practice and prepare for the tournament as I flew in last night. The course was quite wet from the rain, but my plan is still to hit the fairways and greens for my birdie chances,” said Jazz.
“For the next round, I will stick with my game plan. It is always good to play in the tournament that has no cut as it takes pressure off. So, I will try to have fun with my golf and play great.”
Shiv Kapur of India got jolted into a competitive mindset after his bogey on the 14th, his fifth hole of the round. Kapur, who recently welcomed the birth of his daughter, went on to card four birdies over seven holes before stringing a series of pars to close the round.
“I started off striking the ball very well and I’ve left quite a few shots out there. I putted 31 times and shot 67, which means that I’ve done very well when it comes to ball striking,” said Kapur.
“I made a good par save on the last from the bunker. When you hole a good putt on the last hole, it always leaves a good taste in the mouth.
“My bogey on the 14th got me to re-focus and think. I told myself, “you’re playing well, but you have to buckle down.” This is especially so, when you haven’t played for some time and your sharpness isn’t there. I bounced back with a birdie on 15th, which set the tone for the rest of the day.”
Panuphol Pittayarat of Thailand started his tournament in magnificent fashion as he carded two birdies and an eagle to score a 31 at the turn. His back nine though, was relatively less dramatic. He missed out on closing the day with the outright lead after bogeying the 18th.
Compatriot Raththee Sirithanakunsak stood out as the only golfer to score two eagles on Thursday. He did so at two par-five holes, the sixth and 16th. The 28-year-old golfer, who also carded three birdies, would have had a sensational round if not for the bogeys on second, seventh and 17th.
Did you know:
- Gaganjeet Bhullar is the first player to win eight titles on the Asian Tour before turning 30.
- He has three wire-to-wire victories so far.
- After missing the mark at Qualifying School, Jazz Janewattananond played at the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open in February and won it.
- Jazz went on to notch five top-10s this year.
- Shiv Kapur bounced back from liver surgery and dengue fever to win two tournaments in 2017, the Yeangder Heritage and Panasonic Open India.
- Panuphol Pittayarat turned professional when he was 14 years old.
- He won his maiden Asian Tour title this year, at the Indonesia Open.
- The Royal Cup is the last tournament in 2017. It features no cut and offers a prize purse of US$500,000.
Scores after round 1 of the Royal Cup being played at the par 71, 6764 Yards Phoenix Gold GCC course (am – denotes amateur):
67 – Shiv KAPUR (IND), Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA), Raththee SIRITHANAKUNSAK (THA), Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA), Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND).
68 – Prom MEESAWAT (THA), Poom SAKSANSIN (THA), LU Wei-chih (TPE), Namchok TANTIPOKHAKUL (THA), CHAN Shih-chang (TPE).
69 – Poosit SUPUPRAMAI (THA), John CATLIN (USA), Antonio LASCUNA (PHI), Natipong SRITHONG (THA), Peradol PANYATHANASEDH (THA), Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA), Wisut ARTJANAWAT (THA), Suradit YONGCHAROENCHAI (THA), Jbe KRUGER (RSA).
70 – Chirat JIRASUWAN (THA), Nattawat SUVAJANAKORN (THA), Jyoti RANDHAWA (IND), Pasavee LERTVILAI (THA), Thanpisit OMSIN (THA), Ben LEONG (MAS), Tirawat KAEWSIRIBANDIT (THA), Chapchai NIRAT (THA), Khalin JOSHI (IND), Somsak KAOPRATUM (THA), Pavit TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA), Phachara KHONGWATMAI (THA), Pijit PETCHKASEM (THA).
71 – Kwanchai TANNIN (THA), Somprad RATTANASUWAN (THA), Chaiphat KOONMARK (THA), Terry PILKADARIS (AUS), Donlaphatchai NIYOMCHON (THA), Suttijet KOORATANAPISAN (THA), Sorachut HANSAPIBAN (THA), Scott HEND (AUS).
72 – Jakraphan PREMSIRIGORN (THA), Chanachok DEJPIRATANAMONGKOL (THA), Pannakorn UTHAIPAS (THA), Nicholas FUNG (MAS), Chinnarat PHADUNGSIL (THA), Danny CHIA (MAS), Tawan PHONGPHUN (THA), Prayad MARKSAENG (THA), Ratchapol JANTAVARA (THA).
73 – Piya SWANGARUNPORN (THA), Boonchu RUANGKIT (THA), Thepbodin AMARANAN (THA), Nitithorn THIPPONG (THA), Thammanoon SRIROJ (THA), Settee PRAKONGVECH (THA), Pawin INGKHAPRADIT (THA), Panuwat MUENLEK (THA), Arnond VONGVANIJ (THA), Danthai BOONMA (THA), Worrasorn SUWANPANANG (THA), Atthaphon SRIBOONKAEW (THA), Chawalit PLAPHOL (THA).
74 – Meechok PHANTHARAK (THA), Nattapong PUTTA (THA), Itthipat BURANATANYARAT (THA).
75 – Jaturon DUANGPHAICHOOM (THA), Chonlatit CHUENBOONNGAM (THA), Rattanon WANNASRICHAN (THA), Giwhan KIM (KOR), Tawit POLTHAI (THA), Kasidit LEPKURTE (THA).
76 – WANG Wei-lun (TPE).
77 – Naras LUANGPHETCHARAPORN (THA), Natthapong NIYOMCHON (THA).
78 – Ronnachai JAMNONG (THA).
79 – Udorn DUANGDECHA (THA).
80 – Pattalit THANOMSING (THA).
86 – Jomyoot GEETONG (THA).