Thai No 1 Kiradech Aphibarnrat made a flying start to the Bt4 million Asian Development Tour (ADT) Thongchai Jaidee Foundation on Thursday, shooting seven birdies to grab a shot lead.
The champion from 2015, when the event was still held at the Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin, produced an error-free round of 65 at the Siam Country Club Waterside course to lead William Harrold of England.
“I was proud of the way I started today even though I didn’t hit the iron well,” said the 28-year-old world No 60, who is seeking his first title since winning the inaugural edition of this tournament two years ago.
Moreover, he did it in some pain. “I felt a bit tight at my back after the fifth hole and had to ask for a physio. I have to loosen up and get ready for tomorrow,” he said.
Kiradech came close to ending his long title drought in two recent European Tour events, tying for second at both the Italian Open in October and the World Tour Championship in Dubai last month.
Pannakorn Uthaipas and unfancied Chirat Jirasuwan, who each carded 67s, followed at joint third.
Pannakorn fired seven birdies in his opening 65, despite a double bogey on the second, and is well on his way to winning the year-end ADT Order of Merit title.
He went into this tournament second with a gross of US$46,241 behind Masaru Takahashi of Japan, who has earned US$47,055.
“Ending the year as the No 1 on the ADT is my goal. I need to do well this week,” said Pannakorn winner of the ADT Taifong Open earlier this year.