When Chinnarat Phadungsil was born,his father nicknamed him Neung which means ‘the No. 1’ in Thai. The senior Phadungsil’s logic was simple his son was born on the first of November (1/11). But Chinnarat went on to live up to the prophetic tag at least as far as his golf career was concerned.
By 14,he was the number one amateur in his country. he would hold on to that ranking until he turned professional three years later. More success followed as he became the youngest player to win an Asian Tour event. However,in the years that followed his graph didn’t always rise to the levels many thought him capable off.
On the Jaypee Greens course on Thursday however Phadungsil once again gave testament to his ability. With seven back-to-back birdies on the back nine,and another one to finish his round,the 25-year-old came off the course with a huge Thai contingent cheering his five-stroke lead on Day One of the Avantha Masters.
Phadungsil’s score of 11-under on Thursday is not only his golfing career’s best round,it is also only two shots short of the world record of 58 for 18 holes. “My putter was really hot today. Whatever I was touching,was going in… 6-8 feet putts were like nothing at all,” Phadungsil said of his bogey-free round.His magical short game on par 72 course helped him hole a massive 25-footer as well on the fourth,for one of his three birdies on the front nine.
This week could well be Phadungsil’s breakthrough on the European circuit,who was the first among fellow Asian talents such as Gaganjeet Bhullar,in making his debut there. Since his rookie European year in 2009,his best finish has been a tied 7th place at the Avantha Masters itself,two years back.
“At that time I was suddenly lost to be among such competitive players. I was young and not very mature. Both technically and mentally my game is stronger now and even if I can play half as good tomorrow,I’ll be quite hopeful to win,” the Thai,who has won three Asian Tour titles,says.
While Phadungsil charged ahead in the later half of the day,the early lead belonged to another youngster who is looking for a breakthrough. Guangzhou Asian Games silver medal winning team’s member Abhijeet Chaddha,who had just yesterday won the PGTI Rookie of the Year award for his 2012 performance,shot a brilliant 6-under and at tied 2nd is one of two Indians in the top-10.
Just a shot behind him is fellow Games medallist Rashid Khan (T7,5-under). Khan,who had a bogey-free round is in great form following his runner-up finish at the SAIL-SBI Open last week and having won the league based LP Cup on the same course last month.
Another bunch of Indians – Anirban Lahiri,Gaganjeet Bhullar and SSP Chowrasia who finished at 4-under (T15) in the morning,when the conditions were tougher because of heavy winds,will be hoping to have a putter as hot as Phadungsil’s on Friday.
Leaderboard: 1- Chinnarat Phadungsil (THA) (61),T2nd- Abhijit Singh Chaddha (IND),Chawalit Plaphol (THA),Magnus Carlsson (SWE),Chapchai Nirat (THA),Liang Wenchong (CHN) 66