Thai veteran star Prayad Marksaeng struck a seven-under-par 65 at the inaugural Chiangmai Golf Classic yesterday, crediting his form to a change in his putting grip partway through his round.
The 47-year-old local hope, chasing his sixth Asian Tour victory, left four-time major winner Ernie Els in the shade as the South African battled to a 69 with a short putter in his bag for the first time since the end of 2011.
China’s Hu Mu put in a solid 66 to tie for second place with Thai Prom Meesawat and the US’ Jonathan Moore in the US$750,000 event.
Prayad switched to the cross-handed putting grip after shooting pars over four holes and then went on to make five straight birdies to turn in 31. He carded three more birdies against a lone bogey to top the leaderboard.
“For the first few holes, I couldn’t putt. I didn’t have a good feel,” he said in a statement. “After I finished the fourth hole, I changed my grip to the cross-handed grip and then I kept making birdies.”
The Open champion Els shot a bogey-free three-under-par 69 to sit four off the lead.
Els used a conventional putter, instead of his favored belly device.
“I thought it was good,” the South African said of the short putter.
Lin Wen-hong and Lin Wen-tang led the Taiwanese pack with both carding a three-under 69, while Hung Chien-yao ended two-under on 70.
Chan Yih-shin and Tsai Chi-Huang finished a shot back on 71. Hsu Mong-nan carded a one-over-par 73, while Lu Wen-teh finished with a two-over 74.
Additional reporting by staff writer