Khon Kaen, Thailand, November 27 - India’s S.S.P. Chowrasia and Anirban Lahiri charged into the early lead with a seven-under-par 65 in the first round of the King’s Cup on Thursday.
The 36-year-old Chowrasia lifted his third Asian Tour title on home soil earlier this month and is showing the same resolve to win again with a near perfect card that was spoilt by a lone bogey on his closing par-four nine.
Double South East Asia (SEA) Games gold medalists Phiphatphong Naewsuk and Danthai Boonma of Thailand kept the pressure on the Indians by returning with matching 66s to trail them by a single shot in third place at the Singha Park Khon Kaen Golf Club.
George Gandranata, the only Indonesian player at this event, had an even par 72, which put him in a tie for 85th place after the first round. This means he needs a stronger second round if he wants to make the cut, which could be at 2 or 3 under par.
Fresh after another victory at home, Chowrasia showed his fondness for playing in Asia again with another assuring performance on the opening day of the US$500,000 King’s Cup.
Starting on the back-nine 10th, he made a quick start with three birdies in his opening four holes.
Chowrasia raced further ahead with five more birdies in his next seven holes after the turn before a bogey on the closing ninth hole put the brakes on his charge.
“I’m pleased with how I’ve played as I shot a really low number. It was unfortunate on the last hole as I hit a good tee shot and again a second shot. But I three-putted there.
“Indian players are doing very well this year and I’ll try to win my first title abroad this week. My season has been very good. I didn’t play well at Q School in Europe but I’m doing well in Asia,” said Chowrasia.
Danthai, who is making his debut as a professional at the King’s Cup, got a dream start he wanted.
The 18-year-old won the team and individual gold medals at the 2012 SEA Games and is carrying his illustrious amateur record over to his maiden professional event, while taking advantage of his course familiarity too.
“Nice way to get my professional career going with a round like this. It’s a dream start and I’m really happy.
“I’m used to this golf course too as this was our training base for the Asian Games where we won the team bronze medal this year too,” said Danthai.
Like Danthai, Phiphatphong is also a double SEA Games gold medallist where he won the team and singles in 2007.
The 24-year-old is seeking his first professional win having come close to victory on the domestic circuit in Chiangmai.
“I’m seeking my first professional win this week and I’m really confident as I’ve played on this golf course many times. Of course, this is an Asian Tour event and the level of competition is higher and it would be good if I can stand on my own against the region’s best players,” said Phiphatphong.
Scores after Round 1 of the King's Cup 2014 (Par 72):
65 - S.S.P CHOWRASIA, Anirban LAHIRI (IND)
66 - Phiphatphong NAEWSUK (THA), Danthai BOONMA (THA). Kalem RICHARDSON (AUS)
67 - Carlos PIGEM (ESP), MO Joong kyung (KOR), Daniel CHOPRA (SWE)
72 - George GANDRANATA (INA)