Japan’s Tetsuji Hiratsuka set a new course record of eight-under-par 64 yesterday to take the first-round lead at the Air Bagan Myanmar Open.
Hiratsuka bettered Australian Gavin Flint’s course record of 66 after posting an eagle, seven birdies and one bogey in the US$300,000 event, which returns to the Asian Tour after a four-year hiatus.
Flint, winner of the Myanmar Masters on the Asian Development Tour in January, Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand and South African Jbe Kruger are two strokes back on 66 at the Pun Hlaing Golf Club.
Taiwan’s Lin Wen-tang, Malaysian M. Sasidaran and Adam Blyth of Australia are among nine players tied in fifth position on 67.
Local hopefuls Zaw Myint Thein and Naing Naing Lin shot matching 68s to lie in tied 14th place alongside a group of eight other players including Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Order of Merit leader Andrew Dodt of Australia, Taiwan’s Lin Wen-hong and Filipino Juvic Pagunsan.
Hiratsuka, who finished third in the Asian Tour International in Thailand and the Avantha Masters in India, fired a remarkable eagle-two on the eighth hole after his eight-iron approach shot found the hole from 162 yards.
“My irons were excellent and that helped. The golf course also suits my game and I’m really happy with my good start,” the 39-year-old said.
FEELING THE HEAT
Hiratsuka, who missed the cut in the Maybank Malaysian Open last month after struggling with the heat, is aware that the testing conditions in Yangon will also play a pivotal role this week.
“The weather here is very hot but luckily I teed-off in the morning, when it was cooler. I have to keep myself hydrated tomorrow to keep myself in the lead,” the Japanese said
Kyoto-born Hiratsuka is seeking for his first Asian Tour victory.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER
• Sinon Bulls 6, Uni-President Lions 1
• Brother Elephants v La New Bears was postponed due to rain
• Chinatrust Whales v Uni-President Lions
• Sinon Bulls v La New Bears
(Chengching Lake, 6:30pm)
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