ASIAN TOUR: Thai pair lead at Myanmar Open

AFP and reuters, YANGON, MYANMAR

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 - Page 20

Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat bolstered his hopes of erasing last year’s play off defeat at the Zaykabar Myanmar Open yesterday when he tied for the opening-round lead with compatriot Chapchai Nirat.

The pair, who finished on eight-under-par 64, are one shot ahead of fellow countryman Prom Meesawat, who is seeking a long-awaited second Asian Tour victory, and Joonas Granberg of Finland.

Another Thai, Thanyakon Khrongpha, shared fifth place with Australia’s Darren Beck and South Koreans Hwang In-choon and Young Nam at the US$300,000 event, the curtain-raiser for the 10th Asian Tour season.

Reigning Asian Tour No. 1 Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand, who hit the first drive to mark the occasion, was on 71 along with title holder Kieran Pratt of Australia.

Kiradech was six-under through eight holes, but his confidence took a jolt when he missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the 10th hole. He gradually recovered and took advantage of the par-fives, where he birdied 14 and 18.

“I missed a big putt on the 10th hole,” said Kiradech, in comments supplied by the organizers. “I had a 10 feet uphill straight putt, but I pulled it. After that I lost some confidence with the putter. I was lucky to get two birdies in the next par-fives.”

Chapchai was even-par after five holes, but recovered with eight birdies in his last 13 holes to share the lead.

“My putting was very good,” Chapchai said. “Last year I struggled with my putter. Usually when you start the first tournament, you feel a bit uneasy, but it was different today.”

“Putting is very important for me. If I can putt well, I feel confident,” he said.

Taiwan’s Chan Shih-chang and Hung Chien-yao were in a group of players tied for ninth on 67, with compatriot Sung Mao-chang tied for 42nd three shots further back. Fellow Taiwanese Yeh Chang-ting and Huang Tao were in a group of players in 64th place after rounds of 71.

Additional reporting by Staff writer