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Thailand Golf Championship . Midway Point, Sergio & Justin Lead

Sergio Garcia carded a magical hole-in-one on his way to signing for a -7 under par 65, to share the halfway lead with Justin Rose at the Thailand Golf Championship at the Amata Spring Country Club.

Justin Rose - Thailand Golf Championship

Justin Rose / Eurosport

Justin and Sergio share the lead at the Thailand Golf Championship, both on -10 under par at the mid-way point in the Asian Tour tournament.

Sergio commented on his hole-in-one at the par three 8th;

“Yeah, wonderful day for sure, I saw the ball hit right of the green and it started rolling. I thought it’s probably going to end up close. We were saying ‘go in, go in’ and all of a sudden everybody goes ‘wow’ as I can’t really see the hole from the tee box. It was quite nice to see it happen. I feel like I played well both days. I probably didn’t make as many putts. Driving the ball very nicely and hitting a lot of greens and my short game has been pretty good, so overall I’m very happy with it.”

Justin said he got off to a slow start, and then put it all together;

“It was a funny round, I got off to a bit of a slow start and it all started to happen for me in the middle of the round. I just want to keep having fun, I want to end the season in a good way, even if I win or don’t win. The eagle on 11, I had a five iron that I hit in there which was the best shot I’ve hit in a month. It had the right flight, just felt perfect. The swing was good, the divot was good and everything about it was the way it should feel. A lot of us players hit good shots but that felt perfect. And to make that six-foot putt was nice to capitalize on that shot.”

Aniban Lahiri is in third place at -9 under par, and feels really comfortable on the course;

“It was a great day, holed my bunker shot on 11 and that kind of set the tone for the rest of the day. I haven’t really had a round or a series of rounds where I’ve really putted brilliantly, and I think today was one of those rounds where I really felt like I could hole anything and everything. It suits my style and I feel really, really comfortable, I felt like I’ve been knocking on the door now for so many events. I think I’ve played some of my best golf, consistency wise, but in terms of finishing off tournaments it has not been great. I’ve been in the top 10, top five, second place but I haven’t quite won and I think for me I’m playing well enough to win, even against a quality field like this.”

Asian Tour. Indonesian Open. Bhullar Beats Them All.

Gaganjeet Bhullar

Gaganjeet Bhullar / Getty

Indian Gaganjeet Bhullar won the Asian Tour Indonesian Open with a -16 under par total at on the Pantai Indah Kapuk Course at Damai Indah Golf. Gaganjeet shot a 64 in the opening round and finished with a wire to wire win, beating Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat and Nicolas Fung of Malaysia by three strokes.  This victory is Gaganjeet’s fifth Asian Tour title, and he is now in fourth place in the Asian Tour of Merit.

He reported that anything is possible, he wants to be Asia’s number one;

“In golf anything is possible, that’s what I have always believed in. If you have trust in your abilities and will power, you can excel anywhere. The rest is for you to see. I just stayed focused throughout and went with the flow. I told myself if I have won in India and if I have won so many times abroad, I know how to take the crown whenever I am in contention. Leading till the third round gave me a mental edge over others.” 

“I have normally played well in this part of the world – Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia. I have always felt something good about these places. I won here in 2009 and that did pump me up. I was driving well even last week at the World Cup but had issues with my putting, here I was holing my putts with confidence. My target is to finish as No. 1 but only three events are left now, so it is tough. So, in that case I want to at least end up at the No. 2 spot in Asia which I don’t think is out of reach for me.” 

Nicholas Fung was very happy with his performance;

” I’m very happy with my performance this week. It’s really good to see my name up on the leaderboard amongst the other experienced players. I am glad I managed to get into top-60 and secure my card for 2014. That way, I can free up another spot on the ADT for another player to qualify for 2014 Asian Tour cards. During the rain suspension, I checked my phone and was overwhelmed with tons of notications/messages from my friends and family, as well as my supporters. I felt really encouraged and I’m glad I didn’t disappoint them. My buddies on tour, Iain Steel)\, Lindsay Renolds and James Bowen, cheered me on as well.  I am still happy that I came close to winning. I played well so there’s nothing to complain about. My goal was definitely to qualify for the EurAsia Cup next year. It’s a big event and it will be held in my home country. I definitely hope I can qualify for it. I would really love to represent the Asian team and bring honour to my country if the Asian team wins.”

Chapchai Nirat was also happy, but the rain delay did affect his play;

“I’m very happy with my round. I’m very hungry for a victory. I’m getting closer to it. I can really feel it. The win is coming soon. I eagled the 13th hole. I hit my second shot with a six iron from about 195 yards to clear the water and it landed near the hole. My next eagle was on 17. I three putted for bogey on 15 and missed a birdie on 16. I was really angry because of that and I wanted to make another eagle! I put in 100% in my tee shot and hit my second shot with a five iron. I had about a 20 feet putt for eagle. If the rain delay didn’t come, then I think it would have been a birdie. But I had a lot of time to think about that putt and returned to sink it.”

Maybank Malaysian Open. Kiradech Aphibarnrat 1st Round Leader

Kiradech Aphibarnrat is the first round leader at the Maybank Malaysian Open, being played at  the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat   (Getty Images)

Kiradech Aphibarnrat / Getty Images

Kiradech opened the tournament with a -7 under par round of 65, he managed to get in the clubhouse before the thunderstorms brought proceedings to a halt.

There are four players hot on his heels,  just one shot back on -6 under par are Anders Hansen, Edoardo Molinari, Scott Jamieson and Grégory Bourdy.

Grégory birdied five of his first seven holes and said -6 is a good score on this course;

” It’s great to start the tournament like this, six under is a good score on this course. I finished second here two years ago, so I like the course a lot. It’s maybe one of the best we play all season and it’s in great shape again this year. The area is great also, and the weather is very good. I’m enjoying this event again and I hope my game stays like this until Sunday.”

Anders has been struggling a bit this season and was very pleased with his opening round;

” I’m very, very pleased. I’ve been struggling a bit all year, but this week I’ve worked very hard on the range even though it has been so hot.  I hit a lot of good shots today, although I had a couple of loose ones at the start. I hit it in the water on the first which wasn’t good, but I made a good recovery. I hit some very solid golf shots yesterday in the pro-am and that gave me some confidence for today. It’s too hot to get frustrated so you just have to stick in there. It’s extreme and very difficult for everyone.”

World Number Three Luke Donald made his now customary slow start to a tournament and could only manage a +2 over par round of 74, despite chipping in for birdie at the first. Three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington has made a good start in Kuala Lumpur with a three under par 69 for a share of tenth place.

Not everybody has completed their first rounds yet, so there could be some changes to the leaderboard before the start of the second round. Scott Jamieson is at -6 under par through ten holes, and could yet top the leaderboard himself.

Avantha Masters. Chapchai Nirat & Wen-chong Liang Lead.

At the halfway stage of the Avantha MastersChapchai Nirat and Liang Wen-chong are tied at the top of the leaderboard with a two shot lead over the field.

Liang Wen-chong   (Getty Images)

Wen-chong Liang / Getty Images

Wen-chong, from China,  last won an event in 2007, the Singapore Masters, and is keen to record his second European Tour victory. He said after his second round, which included eight birdies, to get to his tournament total of -12 under par;

 ” I managed to hole several long putts,  although I got two bogeys.  I couldn’t have asked for a better round, some of my best golf. I’ve had a good break with my family and I’m back feeling all recharged. I’ve learnt to be patient and my playing experience from all over the world has taught me well. There are two more rounds to go and hopefully, I can be atop the leaderboard like today.”

Chapchai Nirat, also at -12 under par, had seven birdies and one bogey for his second round of 66 on the Jaypee Greens Golf & Spa Resort course. Chapchai has also not won since 2009 at the Asian Tour SAIL Open. He admitted that luck played a part in his round today;

” I played very well indeed, this is a very long course and I managed to hit the balls long the last two days. I also managed to hole several long putts as well and luck did play a part in getting me to my position today.”

The next group of players, at -10 under par are, Nirat’s compatriot Chawalit Plaphol, Scot David Drysdale, England’s Tommy Fleetwood and the Finn, Joonas Granberg.

As is usually the case, runaway overnight leader Chinnarat Phadungsil could not maintain his incredible opening round form, sadly he  took 12 shots more to complete the back nine second time around. He is now in a tie for eighth place at -9 under par.

David Drysdale likes this course, and thinks it suits him well;

”  The golf course gives you a lot of opportunities for birdies, the par fives are all in reach so it’s been a steady two days. I got through the turn today at nine under and expected to be four or five behind at that point after the lad shooting 11 under yesterday, but saw he had come back to the field so that was a pleasant surprise. In the pro-am on Wednesday I was thinking it would be somewhere in the twenties under par that would win this week, especially if the weather stays like this and the wind doesn’t get up. After someone shoots 11 under you are just trying to shoot as many birdies as you can. When I first saw the course I thought it was a bit of a bomber’s paradise, it looks wide from the tee but actually it’s not that wide and it’s quite a good design, quite narrow which suits me a little bit.”

Avantha Masters, Phadungsil -11 under par, Round 1

 

 

The Avantha Masters in India got off to an amazing start with Chinnarat Phadungsil scorching the  Jaypee Greens Golf & Spa Resort course with an amazing -11 under par round of 61.

 

Flying Phadungsil leads after birdie blitz

Chinnarat Phadungsil /Getty Images

Chinnarat, a twenty-four year old from Thailand already has three Asian Tour titles to his name, the first coming aged just seventeen. He dominated the opening day at Jaypee Greens Golf & Spa Resort, and now leads the competition by five shots, after just one round.

Included in his amazing effort was seven birdies in a row on the back nine, just one short of the European Tour record, after completing the front nine in 33 strokes. Chinnarat started his back nine with four regulation birdies, holed a 50 foot putt at the 14th, very nearly pitched in for Eagle at the par five 15th, and followed that with an approach to two feet at the 16th for an incredible seven straight birdies. Another birdie on the 18th gave him eight birdies on the homeward nine, and his total of -11 under par, the lowest 18 hole total on the 2013 Race to Dubai to date.

Chinnarat had to admit that it was his best return ever;

” That’s my best ever round, 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.”

Tied in second place on -6 under par are Thailand’s  Chawalit Plaphol and Chapchai Nirat, China’s Liang Wen-Chong, Swede Magnus A Carlsson and the Indian home favourite Abhijit Singh Chadha, all with first rounds of 66.

Abhijit Singh Chadha was playing in his first event where the Professional Golf Tour of India has been co-sanctioned with the European Tour, and said it was a good experience;

” It’s a good field and it’s the first time I’m playing in an event sanctioned with The European Tour. 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.”

It will be interesting to see how Chinnarat Phadungsil handles the second round, it is always hard to come back and play well after a really low round.

 

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Asian Tour, Thailand Golf Championship. Lee Westwood the Asian Specialist

Lee Westwood/ asiantour.com

The top contender this week  the top at the US$1 million Thailand Golf Championship staged at the Amata Spring Country Club, is Asian specialist Lee Westwood. Lee is known around the world as an Asian specialist  because of his record of multiple victories around the region including the 2011 Thailand Golf Championship, where he romped home to a seven-shot win over South African Charl Schwartzel. During that week, Lee also flirted with the magical score of 59, just missing the mark by one stroke, in the opening round. He is in fine form this season, winning the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters on the Asian Tour following a third place result at The Masters. Lee has missed only one cut this season, and enjoys a World Ranking of  6th.

Bubba Watson will bring his own specialist style of golf to challenge the Championship at Amata Spring. Bubba is the reigning Masters Champion, and well-known for his extra long drives on the PGA Tour, where he averages over 315 yards. Bubba also has four top ten finishes this year in the U.S. and is determined to set his sights on victory here in Asia.

Gaganjeet Bhullar, currently fourth on the Asian Tour of Merit,is a young Indian player who has had a wonderful run of results on the Asian Tour, winning twice, and also finished tied 10th at the CIMB classic in Malaysia. Gaganjeet has a mathematical chance of toppling Thaworn Wiratchant at the top of the Order of Merit but needs a really good finish here and then again next week in Malaysia. Thaworn himself  is on course to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit, standing in 1st place at the moment, this would be the second time since 2005. He has three victories on the Tour this season and is certainly enjoying a purple patch. Thaworn finished second at the King’s Cup on home soil last week and knows a big finish this week will see him creep closer towards the prestigious Merit crown.

Sergio Garcia has enjoyed a resurgence of form earning him back-to-back wins in late 2011. He won again this year on the PGA Tour, at the Wyndham Championship and also has had six other top-ten finishes. And of course Sergio also played a starring role for Europe in the Ryder Cup victory over the United States in September. His current World Ranking is 22nd and he finished in fourth spot last year in the Thailand Golf Championship. Another notable from Europe and Ryder Cup player is Nicolas Colsaerts, the Belgian is the longest driver of a golf ball on the European Tour. Nicolas had a wonderful season winning the Volvo World Matchplay, and has also amassed eleven top ten finishes, and is ranked 35th in the World.

South African Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters Champion is also contesting this event, he is looking for his first win of 2012, to back up his seven top ten finishes this year. To win this year would help erase the memory of last years thrashing in the final at the hands of Lee Westwood.

This is a good field for this tournament and it should be a hotly contested affair, which will be a pleasure to watch.

 

UBS Hong Kong Open. Campbell Clings on to lead

Michael Campbell clings on to the lead in the UBS Hong Kong Open at the Hong Kong Golf Course in Fanling China,  with a clutch ten foot putt for par at the last hole  to retain a share of the lead alongside Miguel Angel Jiménez.

Michael Campbell  (Getty Images)

Michael Campbell / Getty Images

Michael had a third round of -1 under par 69, which he described as scrappy;

Today was sort of scrappy; apart from a couple of drives, it was pretty average really. But once again, I just managed to grind out a score, which is very important with me not playing so well. I turned a 73 into a 69, which is always nice. I’ve still got a chance to win tomorrow, and that’s what I wanted to do after three rounds , give myself an opportunity to go out there and hopefully lift the UBS Hong Kong Open trophy. Once again Miguel is playing great golf, and he’s won this twice before and he’s the man to beat.It’s going to be a very interesting day tomorrow and it’s going to be I think a lot of fun. It will be nice to be a part of it.” 

Miguel Angel Jiménez is tied at the top of the leaderboard with his third round effort of -2 under par 68, for his -10 under par tournament score, the Ryder Cup Vice Captain, and twice winner of this Trophy is happy to be in contention again;

” I love to be in contention, it’s been a long time since I’ve been there and I’m happy and I like this golf course. I like to be in contention on this golf course and you have to have patience and let everything happen. That’s what’s going to happen tomorrow, stay patient because anyone can win.”

Miguel Angel Jimenez

 

Miguel Angel Jiménez / Stuart Franklin / Getty Images

 

Lian-wei Zhang of China is tied in third place with teenage sensation Matteo Manassero of Italy, who won last week at the Barclays Singapore Open. Matteo has cheekily crashed the party of the veterans at the top of the leaderboard.  Lian-wei Zhang  will become the third oldest winner on the Asian Tour at 47 years and 171 days if he completes his dream ‘Chinese Slam‘ on Sunday. Matteo had a third round of -6 under par, 64, and has certainly made his presence felt. The 19 year-old Italian is looking for his fourth Tour win and is in form, he said;

” I played well throughout the whole round, I had a really good practise yesterday and today I have to say, I struck the ball really well. I had plenty of chances, and on the back nine I really had some short putts for birdie and I made a few good ones. Last week really made me relax a lot on the golf course, and these three rounds and my position coming into this Sunday is certainly due to and what happened last week, I’ve got more freedom.”

Matteo Manassero - Hong Kong Open - Day Three

Matteo Manassero, a rare missed putt/ Getty Images

The leaderboard is pretty tightly packed and anyone who shoots a low round tomorrow could win this tournament. I would like to see Michael Campbell take home the Trophy, but Miguel is a determined character and Matteo just oozes class. It will be a fascinating days play.

 

UBS Hong Kong Open, Javi Colomo Leads, Rory McIlroy Languishes.

UBSydragon logo

Javier Colomo  (Getty Images)

Javier Colomo (Getty Images)

Javier Colomo from Spain, qualified for this event via his Asian Tour ranking, and produced an amazing -6 under par 64 to lead by one shot at the UBS Hong Kong Open on the Fanling Golf Course in Hong Kong. On the other hand the tournament favorite, World number one, and money winner on the European Tour and the U.S. PGA Tour, Rory McIlroy, also the defending champion here could do no better than a +3 over par 73.

Javier, who had his wife on the bag, was delighted with his play;

‘”I’m only here with my wife, the first six months it was very hard for me, and my wife, but now we are more comfortable and more happy, perfect. I played really, really good today from the tee, on the greens, everything,  I was very relaxed after the first nine holes, and I had opportunities for birdies and I had luck on the greens.Last year I lost my card on The Challenge Tour and my category in The European Tour, so there’s only one way to go to The European Tour. I had luck to get the card at the Q School on the Asian Tour and now I am 33 in the rankings. That’s perfect, because next year I will play the co-sanctioned tournaments with The European Tour. It’s a very good chance to improve, and why not to win a tournament and go to The European Tour?”

 

Rory said he felt lethargic;

“I just lacked a bit of energy out there, I felt a bit lethargic and mentally more than physically, if I am being honest. I bogeyed the first, but then just got more frustrated as the round went on. I just felt like I was hitting some decent shots and just not really converting any chances for birdies and I just let it go a little bit. I suppose after last week, and winning the Race to Dubai title, it was always going to be a bit of a letdown, I feel as though I am playing well enough, but I just need to get my head and the golf to match up and I’ll be OK.”

Struggles: Rory McIlroy found himself off the beaten track in the first round of the Hong Kong Open

Rory, playing left-handed from the  tree’s.

Rory has a lot of work to do tomorrow if he is to make the cut, unbelievable really, thinking that he could miss the cut, after the year he has had. It would be a sad end to the beautiful year.

Miguel Angel Jiménez, another Spaniard, is sitting in second place at -5 under par, he is tied there with Australia’s Andrew Dodt. Miguel, with a wry smile on his face,  joked about his age;

I am like a good bottle of Rioja, because I just get better and better with age. I’m putting very well and it’s a pity I missed a fairway on the ninth and then on the last got a big flyer. It’s an old-fashioned course, not very long, but you need to be very precise.”

Miguel was playing with another of those good golfers from Spain, Ryder Cup Captain José María Olazábal who is in the group at -4 under par after his round of 66,  José said he hit three poor shots on the day;

I hit three poor shots, but apart from those the rest of the game was pretty solid. Obviously I have to consolidate this the next few days, but it’s nice to have some signs like this one.”

Aussie Andrew Dodt reported he had just fired his round of the year;

“Possibly one of best rounds of the year, solid tee to green and rolled the ball nicely, it was very gusty in places, the wind. You really had to know where you were hitting it. It’s kind of similar to back home in Australia, it’s just a fun course to play.”

Leading Asian player is Lian-wei Zhang from China, who is very handily placed at -4 under par with the popular score of 66. Good Luck to Rory, I hope he plays well tomorrow and makes the cut.

CIMB Classic, Malaysia, Wonderful Watney Wins

           

Magic in Malaysia

Nick Watney/ Getty Images

Nick Watney shot a course record last round on Sunday of -10 under par, 61 to win the CIMB Classic at The MINES Resort & Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with a tournament total of -22 under par. Nick had a chance to go for a 59, but a wayward tee shot on eighteen left him with a difficult approach to the green from the left rough. His effort failed to reach the green, and he was then left with a long pitch shot for par, he failed in his attempt and dropped a shot at the last. That mistake left Bo Van Pelt needing to finish with a birdie to tie Nick at -22 under par. Bo was seeking back to back wins after his victory last week in Australia. Bo also missed the fairway on eighteen, then his approach landed in the green-side bunker, and he got up and down for par, to tie second place with Robert Garrigus, who birdied eighteen for his -21 under par tournament total. Both players had last round scores of -6 under par 66.

Tiger Woods made the charge he promised after his disappointing error strewn second nine on Saturday. Tiger had a last round score of -8 under par 63, and finished just three shots off the lead, tied in fourth place, after starting ten shots adrift of the final pairing of Van Pelt and Garrigus. Sharing fourth place with Tiger was Zimbabwean Brendon de Jonge, who had a final round of -5 under par, 66, and Chris Kirk who had an average last round of -4 under par 67.  Another really low round came from Carl Pettersson with a -9 under par last round effort, giving him seventh place on his own.

CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters, 2nd round, Lee Westwood takes control

Lee Westwood, with a flawless four-under-par 68 , took  control of the second round of the weather-hit CIMB Indonesian Masters at  Royale Jakarta Golf Club on Friday.

Lee said about his round;

“You want to be leading tournaments and I obviously got the hang of playing on this golf course. More importantly, I was patient and I didn’t force things to happen. I’m glad I finished. I can relax this afternoon and prepare for the weekend.”

Lee, the world number three made eight consecutive pars before two closing birdies for 11-under-par 133 at the $750,000 Asian Tour event.

Lee Westwood (AFP, Khalid Redza)

Lee is five shots clear of Kieran Pratt of Australia, who posted a sparkling 65 at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club.  Play was abandoned at 5:27 pm local time due to the threat of lightning.

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