Taipei, June 30 (IANS) Thailand’s Namchok Tantipokhakul claimed a well-deserved lead after firing a seven-under-par 65 to share the opening round honours with Spain’s Javi Colomo at the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship here on Thursday.
Colomo also enjoyed an encouraging start to the week after he traded eight birdies against a lone bogey to find himself occupying prime position with Namchok. Thailand’s Pariya Junhasavasdikul, who set the early pace in the morning, posted a 66 to share third place with Spain’s Carlos Pigem at the Linkou International Golf and Country Club here.
The Philippines’ Miguel Tabuena returned a 67 to grab a share of the fifth place with Casey O’Toole of the United States at the US$500,000 event, which is also the final Olympic qualifying event on the Asian Tour.
Namchok was clearly the man to catch when he flew off the blocks with two birdies in his opening three holes on the back-nine 10th. He soared further ahead with a pair of eagles on the 18th and first holes before stretching his advantage further with birdies on holes three and four.
A lone bogey five on seven eventually brought his charge to a halt but he would par the last two holes for an inward 33.
“My driving accuracy was spot on today and I didn’t make many mistakes apart from that bogey on seven. This is a very challenging golf course especially the greens which you have to learn to read them well,” Namchok said.
“I managed to do that today and it showed on my card. I’m just going out there to enjoy myself again like what I did today and hopefully I’ll be back smiling again,” he added.
Colomo was in excellent fire as he charged out with an outward 33. The Spaniard then stormed ahead with four birdies in his next five holes after the turn. He dropped a shot on six before making amends with another birdie on the eighth hole.
“All in all, it was a good day. The conditions were good and I didn’t make much mistakes today. The greens are tough to read but I managed to do pretty okay except maybe on the sixth hole where I made my only bogey for the day. Apart from that, everything is good and for tomorrow, I’m just going out there to enjoy my game like what I did today,” he said.
Pariya, whose last victory on the Asian Tour dated back to 2013, mixed six birdies, two bogeys and an eagle to enjoy a brief lead after the morning rounds.
The Thai has only made the cut thrice in eight starts but a solid round of 66 has brought about renewed hope as he attempts to end a three-year title drought on the Asian Tour.
The two-time Asian Tour winner was almost flawless in his tee and approach shots and is hoping for his putter to work and complete his overall strategy for the week.
“It has been a while since I gave an interview after a round. It’s good to be in this position. I’m playing well. My driver and irons are spot on. I missed a few putts and a couple of birdie chances but I made it up with an eagle on the fourth,” Pariya said.
“I’ll try to keep it up again as my ball striking is there and if my putter can cooperate a little more, I’ll be in for a good chance.”
O’Toole is hoping his promising start at the Yeangder TPC will not be a flash in the pan. The 25-year-old American enjoyed a stellar season on the secondary Asian Development Tour (ADT) where he was crowned the ADT champion.
However, he has not be able to replicate his winning form with only a tied-fifth finish in Myanmar as his best showing so far.