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Thursday, 14 March 2013
Chinnarat Phadungsil   (Getty Images)
Chinnarat Phadungsil (Getty Images)
An incredible back nine 28 gave Thailand’s Chinnarat Phadungsil a whopping five shot lead after the first round of the Avantha Masters.

The 24 year old - who already has three Asian Tour titles to his name; the first coming aged just 17 - was quite simply too hot to handle as he dominated the opening day at Jaypee Greens Golf & Spa Resort with an 11 under par 61.

After turning in 33 Phadungsil birdied his first four holes on the back nine, saw a 50 foot putt drop in at the 14th, almost pitched in for eagle at the par five 15th, then hit his approach to two feet at the 16th for an incredible seven straight birdies; just one shy of The European Tour record.

Having “only” parred the 17th, the former European Tour Qualifying School graduate struck a brilliant iron into the final green; his ball finishing six inches short of the cup to set up an eighth birdie on the back nine and 11th of the day for the lowest 18 round on the 2013 Race to Dubai to date.

“That’s my best ever round,” he said afterwards. “Today I had a lot of great putts.

“Back nine I hit the driver better than the front nine. But I holed my putts – that’s why I made my score.

“Today my game was very good so I will keep going.”

Phadungsil’s round left him five clear – only once has a bigger lead been held after the opening round of a European Tour event. Compatriots Chawalit Plaphol and Chapchai Nirat, China’s Liang Wen-chong, Swede Magnus A Carlsson and home favourite Abhijit Singh Chadha are the nearest challenge after all compiled rounds of 66.

Of those, perhaps the most impressive performance was that of Indian Tour regular Chadha, who defied the tougher morning conditions on his European Tour debut.

Starting on the back nine, the 21 year old had consecutive gains at the 15th and 16th, before a hat-trick of birdies from the fourth – the last of which came after he almost holed his approach to the sixth.

The Nepal Masters winner then picked up a shot at the ninth – his last – to complete an inward 32.

“It’s a good field and it’s the first time I’m playing in an event sanctioned with The European Tour,” said Chadha. “I’ve got no experience at all. I’ve played a couple of events on the Asian Tour, and playing with the big boys really gives you lots of confidence and it’s a really good feeling for me.

“I don’t feel the pressure of playing the Avantha Masters for the first time. The experience of playing many big international events during my amateur days has really helped me. 

“As an amateur I played a lot of events overseas as part of the Indian team. The atmosphere at these tournaments was similar to that at the Avantha Masters in terms of international participation and the crowds.”

Two-time winner S S P Chowrasia was amongst those round in a four under par 68, with another home favourite a shot further back in the shape of Jeev Milkha Singh.

Spaniard Alvaro Quiros also reached four under on his return from injury, but then had two late bogeys and eventually signed for a round of 70, while defending champion Jbe Kruger had to settle for a level par 72 after a trip to the water at the 15th.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1AIKEN, ThomasRSA18-23
2BHULLAR, GaganjeetIND18-20
3LIANG, Wen-chongCHN18-18
4APHIBARNRAT, KiradechTHA18-17
5BAEK, Seuk-hyunKOR18-16
T6HORSEY, DavidENG18-15
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