Rufino Bayron stepped out of the shadows of his elder brother Jay and took the first-round lead in the inaugural US$80,000 Luang Prabang Laos Open yesterday with an impressive six-under-par 66.
Bayron is looking for his first win as a professional and showed he has the potential by a posting a bogey-free round at Luang Prabang Golf Club.
He leads by two shots over Thailand’s Pornlapat Wongchindawest and Sattaya Sapuppramai in the opening event of the season on the Asean PGA Tour.
A stroke further behind is the imposing figure of Thaworn Wiratchant from Thailand. Malaysian Nicholas Pua and Thailand’s Ekalak Waisayakul finished tied with Thaworn.
Bayron has yet to make an impact in the professional game since making the switch in 2009. Like his brother he was a star of the amateur game in the Philippines.
In contrast, Jay Bayron, who opened with a 71, has been a constant presence on the leader boards on the Asean PGA Tour the past few seasons.
“There are a lot of good players around so it is hard to get good results,” said Rufino Bayron.
The 30-year-old made birdies on holes three, four, six and seven and moved further ahead with birdies on 12 and 16.
“I played poorly from the tee but my approach shots and putting were really good. Maybe I got a bit lucky.”
Pornlapat was also bogey-free for one of his best rounds since turning professional last year. He said: “I am not a big hitter but I kept it straight off the tee. It’s not a bad start.”
The 23-year-old spent seven years studying in the United States before returning two years ago. He is cutting his professional teeth on the Asean PGA Tour and the domestic circuit in Thailand.
Thaworn performed to his usual high level despite a gruelling schedule.
This week marks his ninth successive tournament. He also plans to play in next week’s GS Caltex Maeykung Open in Korea on OneAsia before taking a break. “I am tired but it helps being in such a great place. I feel like I am on vacation especially as a lot of Thai players are here,” said Thaworn.
Leading first round scores:
66 – Rufino Bayron (PHI)
68 – Pornlapat Wongchindawest (THA), Sattaya Sapuppramai (THA), Ekalak Waisayakul (THA)
69 – Thaworn Wiratchant (THA), Nicholas Pua (MAS)
70 – Pravee Visalkit (THA), Panuphol Pittayarat (THA), Tanatchan Puaktes (THA), Guido Van Der Valk (HOL)
71 – Jay Bayron (PHI), Thanyakon Khrongpha (THA), Somsak Khaoprathum (THA), Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA), Koh Dengshan (SIN), Dante Becierra (PHI)