Aug 29, 2019: Asian Tour Release, 29 August 2019: India’s Viraj Madappa restored his self-belief and powered his way to the top of the leaderboard with his opening seven-under-par 65 at the Indonesia Open on Thursday. He shares the first-round lead with Thailand’s Itthipat Buranatanyarat.
The Indian, who claimed his breakthrough on home soil last year, marked his flawless card with seven birdies to hold a one-shot advantage over Thailand’s Kosuke Hamamoto and Indonesian amateur, Naraajie Emerald Ramadhan Putra who both returned with matching 66s at the Pondok Indah Golf Course.
“It has been a while since I felt happy with the way I played. I’ve been playing well but just not able to put together four good rounds. So it’s really satisfying to be able to post a good score for a start today.
“I’ve been playing well but just not able to believe in myself. I’ve not been mentally disciplined enough and I was not trusting the shots I knew I could hit. But I’ve been working on that for a couple of weeks now and it’s good to see the results today,” said Madappa.
Madappa together with Itthipat, hold a one-shot advantage over Thailand’s Kosuke Hamamoto, Indonesian amateur, Naraajie Emerald Ramadhan Putra and India’s Ajeetesh Sandhu after the trio returned with matching 66s.
Madappa is searching for his second Asian Tour win after his breakthrough on home soil last year while Itthipat is coming into the week, fresh off a tied-sixth finish in Kuching a fortnight ago and seeking his maiden victory on the region’s premier Tour.
Thailand’s Sadom Kaewkanjana continued to impress when he returned with a 67 to stay two shots back of Viraj together with compatriot Jazz Janewattananond and Indonesia’s Rory Hie at the US$500,000 event.
Sadom broke into prominence when he became the record fastest Qualifying School graduate to win on the Asian Tour after clinching his first victory in what was only his first start on Tour in Bangladesh.
“I did not get off to a good start as I three-putted 12 but I managed to birdie 14 which brought back the confidence. I think I really needed that birdie to regain my composure. Luckily, I managed to go on and make more birdies to finish strongly.
“I played here several times already and I’m familiar with the course. I just need to maintain my focus and that should be the key for this week,” said Sadom.
Playing for the first time in Asia, South Africa’s J.C Ritchie returned with a 69 to end the day in a share of 24th place, four shots of the pace.
Ranked 120th on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR), Ritchie is the second highest-ranked player after Jazz (58th) and is playing on a sponsor’s invitation, which has been extended as part of the closer collaborations and reciprocal opportunities with the Sunshine Tour.
Did you know?
- Viraj Madappa became the youngest Indian, at the age of 20 years and nine months, to win on the Asian Tour at the TAKE Solutions Masters last August.
- Madappa turned professional in 2017 and made the grade in his first attempt at the Asian Tour Qualifying School last year.
- He hails from Kolkata but is now based in Bengaluru and trained by Tarun Sardesai at the Tarun Sardesai academy.
- After graduating school, Madappa gained admission to the Texas A&M in the United States to study a Bachelor of Arts degree while playing on the college golf team in 2016. However, he only stayed there for a semester before deciding to return home to play professional golf.
- Itthipat Buranatanyarat earned his 2019 Asian Tour card after finishing third at the Qualifying School last December.
- He secured his third Asian Development Tour (ADT) victory at the season-opening Boonchu Ruangkit Championship on home soil in January.
- Kosuke Hamamoto started playing golf at the age of eight. He is a former Thai Amateur star, South East Asia (SEA) Games individual gold medallist and was part of the first Thai team to win the Nomura Cup in Malaysia in 2017.
- He was also part of Team Thailand that finished second in the Team event at the SEA Games IN 2017.
- Naraajie is the number one amateur player in Indonesia. He won the prestiguous Saujana Amateur Championship as his first international win.
- He was part of the International Team for Junior Presidents Cup in 2017 and his best ranking on the Official World Amateur Rankings was 52 in 2017.
- In 2018, Naraajie won two Indonesian Golf Tour titles, making him the most successful amateur since the Indonesian Golf Tour started in 2014.
- Sadom secured his 2019 Asian Tour card in his first attempt at the Qualifying School last December.
- He turned professional at the end of 2018 and broke through on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) after claiming his first professional victory at the Thongchai Jaidee Foundation in February.
- Sadom enjoyed an illustrious amateur career prior to joining the play-for-pay ranks.
- He was ranked as high as 10th position on the Official World Amateur Rankings and his amateur wins include the 2017 Malaysian Amateur Open, 2017 All Indian Amateur and the 2018 Dutch International Junior Open. Also won the 2017 Singha Pattaya Open on his domestic circuit as an amateur.
- Ajeetesh Sandhu is a one-time winner on the Asian Tour. A week after claiming his first Asian Tour title in Chinese Taipei in 2017, Sandhu went on to win the Taiheiyo Club Challenge Tournament on the Japan Challenge Tour.
- Sandhu claimed three top-10 finishes in 2018 to finish in 28th position on the Habitat for Humanity Standings.