Bengaluru, August 9: After opening the day’s proceedings with five straight birdies the humble Thammanoon Sriroj says the Karnataka Golf Association (KGA) is a 'tricky course’! Well, the way the 49-year-old played on Thursday proved otherwise. Having missed the cut at the KGA before, Sriroj stepped onto the course with little or no expectations. While all the attention was on the pre-tournament favourites, the Thailand pro slowly crept up the leaderboard to grab a four-shot lead on the opening round of the Take Solutions Masters here on Thursday (August 9).
Nothing disrupted Sriroj’s rampant form on an unnaturally sunny day in Bengaluru, where the clouds crept in in the afternoon along with a five-minute downpour. Sriroj seemed invincible as he turned in a card of nine-under-62 at the par-71 course. Four shots behind the veteran was a cluster of five golfers, which had only one Indian in the mix.
As it stands after 18 holes:— Asian Tour (@asiantourgolf) August 9, 2018
62 - Thammanoon
66 - Garewal, Danthai, Vincent, Suradit, @carballotati
67 - Settee, Chouhan, McLeod, Antcliff, @KhalinJoshi, Rohana, @BankV1 @TSMastersgolf #TSMastersgolf https://t.co/iPkoYYTzHs pic.twitter.com/WzrZoxeO7l
21-year-old Feroz Singh Garewal was the surprise joint leader at the beginning of the day before Sriroj rumbled past him. Garewal, who is coached by the same coach as India’s top star Shubhankar Sharma, shot a five-under-66 to share tied second place with tournament favourite Scott Vincent, Thai duo Danthai Boonma and Suradit Yongcharoenchai and Argentine Miguel Carballo.
Thai veteran Sriroj got off to a flying start with five back-to-back birdies. He saved another shot on the 9th hole (the 18th hole of KGA as he started playing from the 10th). Taking the turn the pro, who had last won an Asian Tour title in 2004, saved his seventh shot of the day. He looked set to break the course record. But following his ninth birdie on the 15th hole, the Thai pro found himself in the woods and bogeyed the hole. But he bounced right back with his tenth saved shot in the next, which from afar looked like a hole-in-one. A par on the final hole saw the Thai player finish four-shots ahead of the chasing pack.
Speaking about his marvelous round, the surprise of his own actions was still etched on his face. After kicking off with a birdie run, the player initially believed it was pure luck. “I thought it was luck! I have played a few times at this course. I knew this was a narrow course and the rough will be tough and my game doesn’t suit this course at all. I thought I will miss the cut again. But my confidence grew as the round progressed.
“My tee shots were good today but my putting was even better. I made a lot of long putts today. I made my only bogey of the day on the seventh after hitting into the trees but bounced back with a good birdie on the eighth where I hit it to about a foot. I thought I hit it really close but my playing partner Mukesh Kumar hit it even closer.”
Talkin about his birdie run on the first five holes, Sriroj said, “At first I thought it was luck! But after making five in a row I thought maybe it’s my talent. But I will not expect too much this week as this course doesn’t suit my game. I will see how tomorrow goes and take it from there,” signed off the Day 1 leader.
Meanwhile, Chandigarh golfer Garewal, who carded six birdies to grab a share of the second place, said, “I started with a couple of bad shots, missing fairways, but got lucky both times, as I made the up-and-down for pars. I also made a couple of other good putts on the front nine, to get to 1-under for the first half. On the back nine, I went birdie-birdie-birdie and made some good putts and on the last I got lucky with a real long one. Sometimes with long putts, you are not actually going for it, but lagging it to get close, but it falls, so I feel that’s a bit of luck.”
Lying a shot behind the pack of five, was a bunch of seven golfers, including last year’s runner-up Khalin Joshi. Joshi carded a four-under-67 to end the day at tied-7th along with compatriot Om Prakash Chouhan, Sri Lankan Anura Rohana, Australians Jake McLeod, Maverick Antcliff and Thai golfers, Arnond Vongvanji and Settee Parkongvech.
TAKE Solutions Masters Feroz Garewal's 5-under-66 was the best score among the Indians in Round 1, it placed him T2, 4 behind leader Thammanoon Sriroj, Om Prakash Chouhan & Khalin Joshi shot scores of 4-under-67 to be T7— PGTI (@PGTITOUR) August 9, 2018
Meanwhile Asian Games-bound amateur Aadil Bedi had a good day at office as the youngster carded three-under-68 to lie tied 14th. His Asia Games teammate Harimohan Singh shot two-under-69 to be tied-24th. Their third teammate Rayhan Thomas had a bad outing as the amateur returned with a disappointing three-over-74 and looked set to miss the cut.
Amongst other pros six-time Asian Tour winner, SSP Chawrasia, bounced back from 2-over to 2-under with four birdies on his back nine. Local golfers M Dharma carded 3-under 68, while fellow localite S Chikkarangappa ended the opening round with a 2-under 69. Seasoned pros Jyoti Randhawa turned in a card of one-under 70, while Jeev Milkha Singh returned a one-over 72.
On Thursday morning the players wore a Black ribbon for former Asian Tour player, Jarrod Lyle, who passed away after succumbing to cancer earlier today (August 9) in Australia.
Ahmedabad based Udayan Mane, who had been pegged as one of the pre-tournament favourites had a dismal day in office. The PGTI regular found himself in a mess, when his golf ball got stuck in the tree.
In the par-5 fifth hole, Mane was awarded a three-stroke penalty after his golf ball got stuck in the tree and despite several efforts, his caddie failed to bring it down. To add to his voes the ball was not even visible to the naked eye. Mane even asked a photojournalist to help out but it was of no use.
Apart from the lone dog, who enjoyed a pat or two from the golfers standing around, it was all-in-all a messy affair as a dejected Mane ended the day at tied 143, turning in a card of 6-over-77. Maybe as a comforting factor the dog followed Mane's group for a while after the fiasco.
Top Scores after 18 holes:
1. Thammanoon Sriroj (9-under-62)
Tied 2nd. Feroz Singh Garewal (5-under-66), Danthai Boonma (5-under-66), Scott Vincent (5-under-66), Suradit Yongcharoenchai (5-under-66), Miguel Carballo (5-under-66)
Tied 7th. Maverick Antcliff (4-under-67), Jake McLeod (4-under-67), Om Prakash Chouhan (4-under-67), Settee Prakongvech (4-under-67), Khalin Joshi (4-under-67), Anura Rohana (4-under-67), Arnond Vongvanij (4-under-67)