July 26, 2018: In a solid opening round, Shiv Kapur in Royal Cup shot six birdies and two bogeys to plant himself among the early leaders in Thailand. Thailand’s Raththee Sirithanakunsak mastered windy conditions to sign for a seven-under-par 63, grabbing the opening round lead by one shot on Thursday.
The 28-year-old Thai, chasing for a breakthrough win on the Asian Tour, returned with a flawless card highlighted by seven birdies to take his place atop the leaderboard at the US$500,000 event held at the Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club.
Defending Champion Shiv Kapur finished with four-under-par 66, to tie for T5 after the first round.
In-form Justin Harding of South Africa, who claimed his maiden victory on the region’s premier Tour in Indonesia two weeks ago, continued his good run of form by carding a 64 to tie in second place with Japan’s Naoto Nakanishi.
Raththee, a one-time winner on the Asian Development Tour in 2015, took advantage of his hot putter by navigating his ways around the greens with only 24 putts. Despite finding only nine fairways, the lanky Thai managed to hit 13 greens in regulation for his commendable round of 63.
The 32-year-old Harding, playing in only his second start on the Asian Tour this season, stood tall amidst the windy conditions to post a bogey-free round highlighted by six birdies. Nakanishi, 29, was equally flawless in his round of 64.
The Royal Cup is held in honour of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun, who will celebrate his 66th birthday on Saturday.