Feb 9, 2017: India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar soared into contention with a solid first round 66. The in form golfer is lying T3 after an action packed first round of the Maybank Championship on Thursday. Thai teenage wonder Phachara Khongwatmai fired a seven-under-par 65 to trail first round leader Marc Warren of Scotland. Gaganjeet is in a group of six players tied in third.
He carded seven birdies – at the 1st, 3rd, 7th and 8th holes on the front nine and 13th, 17th and 18th holes on the home stretch. Gaganjeet’s lone blemish came on the 6th hole.
“I hit the ball really well and gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities. I think I hit 15 greens in regulation today and had some really close birdies. Drove it really well. Missed some shots in the middle of the round but after that the game was coming back on track. Just the first day and I’m feeling positive for the week.
I’ve been driving it good lately, hitting a lot of fairways. And I’ve been giving myself a lot of birdie opportunities which is the key factor this week. Greens here are small and if you’re on the green, you have good chance of scoring”, said Gaganjeet.
Shubhankar Sharma and Anirban Lahiri are also lying inside the top 20. Shubhankar is tied in eleventh place. He scored four birdies and an eagle to finish with four-under-par 68. Anirban ended the first day in T18 after playing a steady round of golf.
The 17-year-old Phachara, who has posted four top-five finishes in his last eight starts, nailed eight birdies against a lone bogey at Saujana Golf and Country Club’s Palm course to put himself in the hunt for a maiden Asian Tour title at the US$3 million showpiece sanctioned with the European Tour.
Warren, 35, ended a glorious scoring day two strokes ahead of the the talented Thai, thanks to a flying 63 highlighted by one eagle and seven birdies as he chases a fourth European Tour victory and first since 2014.
Malaysia’s Arie Irawan was amongst a group of six golfers bunched on 66, three off the pace, after he carded a fine bogey-free 66. The 26-year-old was tied with Masters Tournament winner Danny Willett of England, American Peter Uihlein, Germany’s Marcel Siem, Australia’s Sam Brazel and India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar.
Interesting Facts for the Day
- Warren posted two top-10s in 2016, with his best being a fifth place finish in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.
- With seven birdies and one eagle for his 63, Warren equals his best first round score in his career.
- Warren won the World Cup of Golf for Scotland in China in 2007, partnering Colin Montgomerie.
- Phachara enjoyed his best finish on the Asian Tour Order of Merit last season in 14th position with four top-10s.
- Phachara, whose name means “diamond” in Thai, finished tied second in the season-opening Singapore Open last month and qualified for the Open Championship.
- Phachara’s eight birdies against one bogey for his 65 equals his career lowest round on the Asian Tour.
- Phachara has two wins on the Asian Development Tour, the first in 2015 when he was 15 years old which makes him the youngest winner on the region’s developmental circuit.
- Arie is a two-time winner on the Asian Development Tour. He missed out on his Asian Tour card at Qualifying School last month by one shot. His best finish on the Asian Tour was tied ninth at the Resorts World Manila Masters in 2014.
- Arie suffered a shoulder injury last year after a motorbike accident. His first career victory on the local PGM Tour was in 2014 and it was titled sponsored by Maybank.
- Amongst the leaders in the top-10, his 24 putts taken today was the lowest.
Round 1 Scores(am – denotes amateur):
63 – Marc WARREN (SCO).
65 – Phachara KHONGWATMAI (THA).
66 – Arie IRAWAN (MAS), Danny WILLETT (ENG), Peter UIHLEIN (USA), Marcel SIEM (GER), Sam BRAZEL (AUS), Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND).
67 – Soomin LEE (KOR), Lasse JENSEN (DEN).
68 – Richard T. LEE (CAN), Shubhankar SHARMA (IND), Romain WATTEL (FRA), Gavin GREEN (MAS), K.T. KIM (KOR), Robert KARLSSON (SWE), David LIPSKY (USA), Niall TURNER (IRL).
69 – Nino BERTASIO (ITA), Bernd WIESBERGER (AUT), LU Wei-chih (TPE), Alexander LEVY (FRA), Renato PARATORE (ITA), Thitiphun CHUAYPRAKONG (THA), Gregory HAVRET (FRA), CHAN Shih-chang (TPE), Prom MEESAWAT (THA), Anirban LAHIRI (IND), Lucas BJERREGAARD (DEN), Siddikur RAHMAN (BAN).