Two-time Asian Tour winner, Thai golfer, Pariya Junhasavasdikul thoroughly enjoyed his maiden appearance on the Professional Golf Tour of India (PGTI) as he carded a six-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the McLeod Russel Tour Championship at the Royal Calcutta Golf Course (RCGC) here on Thursday.
Impressed with the performance of the Indian golfers in international events, Junhasavasdikul thought of “tasting the Indian waters” and developed a taste for it. The 32-year-old hit five birdies, an eagle and a bogey to ensure a fine start.
Khalin Joshi, who is in contention for the PGTI Order of Merit top spot, was second with a five-under 67. Amardip Sinh Malik and Ranjit Singh were tied for the third place at 68.
It was the Thai who seemed to have a better control over the conditions as he tried to keep the ball on the fairways on a course having lots of big trees and deep gorges. Junhasavasdikul had a clean front nine, studded with birdies on first and ninth, followed by a roller-coast back nine.
Junhasavasdikul, who had birdies on 11th, 16th and 18th, missed a 12-foot putt on 13th to drop a shot but sank a birdie from about the same distance following an accurate second shot to have an eagle on the par-five 15th.
“The key to do well here is to place the ball well for the approach shot. My putter also cooperated well,” said Junhasavasdikul.
Khalin played a blemish-free round, featuring a 10-foot putt on 13th among his five birdies, was rewarded for beating the wind and keeping the ball in play.
He rode a bit luck, evident from his birdie on ninth where the T-shot into the rough sat up and helped him gain a stroke, for a good finish.
Ranjit, who putted from 25 feet for an eagle and negated the two bogeys he had on third and 18th, and Amardip, who played with a broken finger, put up excellent performances to give the leader a close chase.
It was Amardip who won hearts because of his brave effort. The Noida golfer defied his painful little finger on right hand and lack of practice to get four birdies and two bogeys apart from a hole-in-one eagle on the par-three second hole.
Pariya Junhasavasdikul 66; Khalin Joshi 67; Ranjit Singh and Amardip Sinh Malik 68; Honey Baisoya and Jeev Milkha Singh 69; Sanjeev Kumar, Mohd. Zamal Hossain Mollah, Mukesh Kumar, Rashid Khan, Shubhankar Sharma, Shamim Khan, S.S.P. Chawrasia and Jyoti Randhawa 70; Sujjan Singh, C. Muniyappa, Vikrant Chopra, M. Dharma, Shiv Kapur, Gaganjeet Bhullar 71.
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