Apr 27, 2017: Jake Higginbottom of Australia battled to a four-under-par 68 in blustery conditions to take the opening round lead and India’s Chikkarangappa shared tied second place with three-under-par 69 at the Yeangder Heritage on Thursday.
The 23-year-old Higginbottom, who regained his Asian Tour card through Qualifying School earlier this year, returned with five birdies against one bogey on a rain and wind swept day at the National Golf Country Club.
Chikkarangappa S. of India, Danthai Boonma of Thailand, Sung Mao-chang of Chinese Taipei and 18-year-old Sangpil Yoon of Korea were a further shot back in tied second place at the US$300,000 Asian Tour event.
The talented Chikkarangappa, who is searching for a first win, struggled in the cold weather early in the round but three birdies on his homeward nine lifted him to a share of second place.
“Looking at the weather, I’m quite surprised I shot a 69. I had a great day. I putted well and made sure I didn’t make any mistakes.
When we played the practice rounds it was bright and sunny but today two layers are not good enough. To be honest, I was laughing at myself because I missed two 2-footer putts. I was standing over the ball and the wind really blew at me and I pulled my putts.
I haven’t had a great start yet. I’ve made some changes and obviously things are not falling into place yet. It is getting better and I’m getting more confident. I’m sure there is a solid week coming up.
“I have great memories on this golf course. I went 65 holes without any bogeys but I lost the tournament because of a bad finish. I want to make sure that I don’t make those mistakes again this week” said Chikka.
After failing to secure a Tour card for last season, Higginbottom bounced back by finishing in tied fifth place at the Qualifying School earlier this year. He also secured a 12th place result at the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth in February.
“You don’t want to go back to Qualifying School, ever. Hopefully I can keep plodding along and be there on Sunday.” – Jake Higginbottom
Danthai, who won his first Asian Tour title in 2015, stayed focused in the tricky conditions to return with a bogey-free round highlighted by three birdies while Sung led the local charge with an opening 69.
Korean teenager and Asian Tour rookie Yoon, whose father was on his bag, got off to a flying start when he carded five birdies against two bogeys to trail the leader by one shot.
Did you know?
- Higginbottom found 14 greens in regulation play today and holed 28 putts in his round of five birdies and one bogey.
- He is searching for a first Asian Tour victory this week. His best finish on the Asian Tour was a tied fourth result at the 2014 Dubai Open.
- Higginbottom finished in 83rd place on the 2015 Asian Tour Order of Merit to lose his card for 2016. He returned to Qualifying School earlier this year where he finished in a share of fifth place.
- Chikkarangga played at the National Golf Country Club on the Asian Development Tour last year and was bogey-free for 65 holes. He dropped five shots in his closing seven holes and missed joining the play-off between eventual winner Pavit Tangkamolprasert and Lin Wen-tang by a single shot.
- He enjoyed his best season on the Asian Tour in 2016, thanks to four top-10 results including a tied third place finish at the Venetian Macao Open.
- Danthai is one of three players inside the top-10 who returned with a flawless card. The other two players are Chawalit Plaphol and Chen Ming-chuan.
- A total of 16 players finished in red numbers after 18 holes. The toughest hole on the course was the 486-yard par four 17th hole. Only one player scored birdie on this hole.