Credit: Asian Tour
Jazz takes the opening honours
Home favourite Jazz Janewattananond basked in the opening round glory after firing a flawless eight-under-par 63 to take the lead by one shot at the Boonchu Ruangkit Championship on Thursday.
The 23-year-old Thai, who finished inside the top-three in the past two editions, renewed his affinity with the course with a bogey-free round highlighted by six birdies and an eagle at the ?4 million (approximately US$121,700) event hosted by Thai legend Boonchu Ruangkit.
Countryman Sorachut Hansapiban, England’s Steve Lewton and Finland’s Janne Kaske share second-place following matching 64s at the Asian Development Tour (ADT) held at the Rancho Charnvee Resort and Country Club.
“I like this course and it suits my game. Every time I come here, I enjoy the weather and the views of the course,” said the two-time Asian Tour winner.
Jazz birdied the second hole before drilling in a 15-footer for eagle on hole five. He grabbed birdies on holes seven and eight for an outward 30.
“I hit a five-wood to about 15-feet and then holed that putt for eagle. It really gave me confidence going into the rest of the round. Everything just worked great for me today,” added Jazz.
The young Thai relished the opportunity to play with his mentor Thongchai Jaidee in the first round, since they last played together on the Asian Tour in November.
“The last time I played with Thongchai I missed the cut in Hong Kong (Asian Tour), but this time I am playing with him again my game feels so much better. I’m listening to the advice he’s telling me and it’s all working out,” added Jazz, who carded three more birdies in the back nine for an inward 33.
Lewton, a one-time Asian Tour winner, marked his card with one eagle, six birdies and one bogey. He credited his low round to the hard work he put in over the off season in which he spent three weeks back in England working on his game.
“It feels great knowing that the work I’ve done over break is paying off. I had a slow start with a bogey on the first but bounced back with an eagle from 180 yards and that turned things around.
“I didn’t finish as well as I would’ve liked because I three-putted from 25 feet on the last hole. But overall a really great round to start the year,” added the Englishman.
The 28-year-old Sorachut also expressed his delight at starting the season on a good note with a personal-best score of 64.
“I made an eagle on the very last hole which was a nice way to end a great round. The ball took a backspin into the hole from 98 yards in and I didn’t expect it,” said Sorachut, who signed for a bogey-free round with five birdies and an eagle.
Six players take tied-fifth on 65, including Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, American Johannes Veerman and South Africa’s Mathiam Keyser. Defending Champion Namchok Tantipokhakul returned with a 68 to sit in tied-39th.
The Boonchu Ruangkit Championship which is jointly sanctioned by the All Thailand Golf Tour (ATGT), will be celebrating its fifth edition this year. The winner is projected to earn 10 Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points, while the top-six players and ties earn points on a sliding scale.
The leading seven players on the ADT Order of Merit at the end of the season will earn playing rights on the premier Asian Tour for the 2020 season.
Leading first round scores:
63 - Jazz Janewattananond
64 - Sorachut Hansapiban , Steve Lewton , Janne Kaske
65 - Sadom Kaewkanjana , Witchayanon Chothirunrungrueng , Johannes Veerman , Kosuke Hamamoto , Mathiam Keyser , Kiradech Aphibarnrat
66 - Blake Snyder , Ye Htet Aung , Zaw Moe , Casey O'Toole , Poom Saksansin , Pavit Tangkamolprasert , Itthipat Buranatanyarat , Kwanchai Tannin , Sakchai Sirimaya , Trevor Simsby , Brett Munson , Suttijet Kooratanapisan , Chapchai Nirat , Prom Meesawat , Seungjae Maeng