Thai veteran Thammanoon Sriroj rolled back the years after signing for a spectacular nine-under-par 62 to lead by four shots following the opening round of the TAKE Solutions Masters on Thursday.
The 49-year-old Thammanoon, a five-time Asian Tour winner by not since 2004, got off to a solid start with five straight birdies from the 10th hole before adding another birdie on 18 to turn in 31.
He nailed three more birdies on the first, third and sixth holes but dropped his only bogey of the day on the seventh hole. The experienced Thai, however, bounced back swiftly with a birdie on the par-three eighth after hitting his tee shot to within a foot.
Young Thai duo Danthai Boonma and Suradit Yongcharoenchai shared second place with Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent, Argentinean Miguel Carballo and local prospect Feroz Singh Garewal after they carded matching rounds of 66s at the Karnataka Golf Association (KGA) Golf Course.
India’s rising star Khalin Joshi was amongst those bunched in seventh place after he carded a 67 on his home course. Defending champion Poom Saksansin of Thailand battled to a 71 to tie in 64th position at the US$350,000 Asian Tour event.
Asian Games-bound amateur Aadil Bedi carded 3-under 68 to be Tied-14th and Harimohan Singh, also going to the Asian Games later this month, shot 2-under 69 to be Tied-24th. The third Asiad-bound amateur, Rayhan Thomas had a disappointing day with 3-over 74.
Other good scores from prominent names included six-time Asian Tour winner, SSP Chawrasia, who bounced back from 2-over to 2-under with four birdies on his back nine, M Dharma (3-under 68), S Chikkarangappa (2-under 69), Jyoti Randhawa (1under 70) but Jeev Milkha Singh returned 1-over 72.
Thammanoon, who is using a new set of clubs, except for the putter and the sand wedge, said, “My tee shots were good today but my putting was even better. I made a lot of long putts today. I made my only bogey of the day on the seventh after hitting into the trees but bounced back with a good birdie on the eighth where I hit it to about a foot. I thought I hit it really close but my playing partner Mukesh Kumar hit it even closer.”
He added, “I have played here a few times. I knew it’s a narrow course and the rough will be tough which doesn’t suit my game. I thought I might miss the cut again but the confidence grew as I headed into the round today and I played better and better from there.”
On his run of five birdies, he said, “At first, I thought I am just lucky but after making five-in-a-row, I thought maybe it’s just my talent. I have shot 10 birdies (in a round) before in Thailand.”
But he said, “I will not expect too much this week because this course doesn’t really suit my game. We will see how it goes tomorrow. I have played in Japan for four years before and I am planning to play the Senior Tour in Japan after I turn 50 next year.”
Garewal, who played at the last Asian Games in 2014, and was fifth at the Youth Olympics the same year, shot five-under-par 66 to set the early pace at the morning wave.
This morning SSP Chawrasia made some movement on the board, lying second, following the Argentinian by two-shots at 8-under-134. Will keep you updated with the latest news from Bangalore.