Kiradech Aphibarnrat rides confidence to lead at Wentworth

Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Christiaan Bezuidenhout produced a string of birdies to post 64 in the opening round of the BMW PGA Championship

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Kiradech Aphibarnrat - European Tour - Getty Images

10 September 2021: Kiradech Aphibarnrat carded seven birdies in a stunning back nine at Wentworth Club to take as share of the first round lead at the BMW PGA Championship – the third Rolex Series event of the 2021 Race to Dubai. Shubhankar Sharma opened his week with a two-under 70 with some late fireworks. He shot two birdies at the 14th, 15th to draw even before dipping under-par with an eagle on the 17th hole.

The 32-year-old from Thailand has struggled to find the kind of form which has earned him four European Tour titles, but he reignited the flame on the West Course’s famous back nine. Five birdies in succession were complimented by back-to-back birdies at the 16th and 17th, earning him an eight under 64 and a one-stroke advantage.

“It was incredible, to be honest, my putter worked very well today, a lot of good ball-striking, tee-to-green it was lovely. I think I had a couple missed shots, especially the last hole, I was trying to catch at the ball make sure it get over the rough. But I caught it a little bit too thin. But I holed a long par putt which is fantastic,” said Aphibarnrat.

“I just want to come out here and enjoy every single minute that I spend on European Tour. It feel like every time I come back it just feels like home. I feel comfortable over here. I see some friends, see my coaches, and it’s a lovely golf course. I enjoy it every time I come back to Wentworth.”

He was joined at the top by South Africa’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout, the three-time European Tour winner carding an eagle at the par five fourth hole and picking up birdies on the final three holes to sign for his 64.

Adam Scott is one shot back on seven under par after a 65, which included eight birdies, with the Australian making a happy return to the prestigious event after 15 years away.

Justin Rose, who requires a win this week to seal an automatic qualification place in Pádraig Harrington’s European Ryder Cup team, started strongly with a five under 67 to share fourth place with his English compatriot Laurie Canter and Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura.

Shane Lowry is the man who currently occupies the final qualification spot, and he enjoyed a steady opening 70, while Bernd Wiesberger – who has the strongest chance of breaking into the team in the final week of qualification – signed for a one under par opening 71.

Play was suspended overnight due to darkness, with four groups remaining to complete round one.