Thailand’s Suradit Yongcharoenchai shot a solid opening four-under-par 68 in difficult windy conditions to take the clubhouse lead in the US$2.5 million International Series Qatar today at Doha Golf Club.

Canadian Richard T. Lee, Sangmoon Bae from Korea and Thailand’s Phachara Khongwatmai came in with 69s, while South Africans Charl Schwartzel and Darren Fichardt and Travis Smyth from Australia shot 70s – in the third event of the season on the Asian Tour and the second of the year’s International Series tournaments.

Australia’s John Lyras and Todd Sinnott, Andy Ogletree from the United States, Indian Jyoti Randhawa, Malaysian Ben Leong, Filipino Miguel Tabuena, Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant, Nitithorn Thippong and Gunn Charoenkul, and Saudi Arabian Saud Alsharif all carded 71s.

Suradit finished late in the day, unlike the three trailing him in second who played in the morning, and took the outright lead with a birdie on his last hole, the par-four ninth, having started his round on the back.

The 24-year-old Thai, a winner once before on the Asian Tour at the 2019 Mercuries Taiwan Masters, made five birdies and dropped one shot.

In hot pursuit is Lee a two-time winner on the Asian Tour who came close to winning two International Series events last year in Singapore and Morocco before finishing runner up on both occasions.

“I made a few good long putts in my round and just kept it in play, windy conditions so you have to keep it in the fairways and get it on the green to have putts that can go in,” said the Canadian.

“I think I converted that pretty well even though I had two bogeys out there, I’m looking forward to tomorrows round.

 It was an encouraging round, made up of five birdies and two bogeys, for Lee considering he had to retire from last week’s International Series Oman as he was feeling unwell.

He added: “Yeah I’m feeling about 70% healthy again and hopefully the next three days I can hold up and play the round I played today.”

Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, was happy to make a good start considering the difficult conditions, which saw the wind reach gusts of 35 kilometres per hour.

He said: “Yeah, I thought teeing off early we would get a little bit of benefit with the wind, but we didn’t, so spent most the day in pretty strong conditions and thought I played really well. You always feel like when you played well you always feel like you could have left a few out there but in these conditions two under will be good.”

Smyth was equally as happy to come in under par while battling the breeze.

“I feel awesome, I was joking around saying it’s just another day back where I’m from, it’s super. super windy in Sydney,” said the Australian.

“I just embraced it and felt like I got some control of my golf ball so just tried to use the wind to my advantage and yeah everything kind of went my way. I hit a few loose shots and found my ball and was able to scramble for pars. I got a little lucky combined with some good golf, so I’m stoked.”

Indians Gaganjeet Bhullar and Shiv Kapur and American Dru Love, the son of PGA Tour star Davis Love III, are in a group of players on 72.

A total of nine players will resume their rounds at 6.40am local time on Friday with the second round scheduled to start at 6.20am as planned.

Scores after round 1 of the International Series Qatar being played at the par 72, 7577 Yards Doha GC course (am – denotes amateur):
68 – Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA).
69 – Richard T. Lee (CAN), Sangmoon Bae (KOR), Phachara Khongwatmai (THA).
70 – Charl Schwartzel (RSA), Darren Fichardt (RSA), Travis Smyth (AUS).
71 – John Lyras (AUS), Gunn Charoenkul (THA), Andy Ogletree (USA), Jyoti Randhawa (IND), Ben Leong (MAS), Miguel Tabuena (PHI), Saud Al Sharif (KSA), Thaworn Wiratchant (THA), Todd Sinnott (AUS).
72 – Dru Love (USA), Mikumu Horikawa (JPN), Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND), Karandeep Kochhar (IND), Hennie Du Plessis (RSA), Dodge Kemmer (USA), Elyes Barhoumi (am, TUN), Seungtaek Lee (KOR), Shiv Kapur (IND), S.S.P. Chawrasia (IND), Ryosuke Kinoshita (JPN).
73 – Chang Wei-lun (TPE), Taewoo Kim #1468 (KOR), Hideto Tanihara (JPN), Sarit Suwannarut (THA), Steve Lewton (ENG), Prayad Marksaeng (THA), Itthipat Buranatanyarat (THA), Alex Ching (USA), Miguel Carballo (ARG), Tomoharu Otsuki (JPN), Bjorn Hellgren (SWE), Ben Campbell (NZL), Ryo Hisatsune (JPN), Bio Kim (KOR).
74 – Benjamin Schmidt (ENG), Natipong Srithong (THA), Turk Pettit (USA), Kieran Vincent (ZIM), Michael Tran (VNM), Zach Murray (AUS), Sihwan Kim (USA), Sadom Kaewkanjana (THA), Mingyu Cho (KOR), Wocheng Ye (CHN), Settee Prakongvech (THA), Yonggu Shin (CAN), Jeev Milkha Singh (IND), Andrew Dodt (AUS), Wade Ormsby (AUS), Scott Hend (AUS), Nitithorn Thippong (THA), Jinichiro Kozuma (JPN), Naraajie Ramadhanputra (INA).
75 – Othman Almulla (KSA), Suteepat Prateeptienchai (THA), Yurav Premlall (RSA), Chapchai Nirat (THA), Shergo Al Kurdi (JOR), Kevin Yuan (AUS), Jazz Janewattananond (THA), Jaco Ahlers (RSA), Ayoub Lguirati (MAR), Ben Jones (ENG), Guxin Chen (CHN), Issa Abouelela (am, EGY), Pawin Ingkhapradit (THA), Hanmil Jung (KOR), Lee Chieh-po (TPE), Kaito Onishi (JPN), Jarin Todd (USA), Minkyu Kim (KOR), Chan Shih-chang (TPE), Rashid Khan (IND).
76 – Poom Saksansin (THA), Terry Pilkadaris (AUS), Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA), Hiroshi Iwata (JPN), Wilco Nienaber (RSA), Michael Maguire (USA), Jean Bekirian (FRA), Atiruj Winaicharoenchai (THA), Veer Ahlawat (IND), Kosuke Hamamoto (THA), Berry Henson (USA), Jbe Kruger (RSA), Taehee Lee (KOR), Sanghyun Park (KOR), S. Chikkarangappa (IND), Zhengkai Bai (CHN).
77 – Matt Killen (ENG), Honey Baisoya (IND), Angelo Que (PHI), Tirawat Kaewsiribandit (THA), Kyongjun Moon (KOR), Prom Meesawat (THA), Lloyd Jefferson Go (PHI), Justin Harding (RSA), Shahriffuddin Ariffin (MAS).
78 – Zach Bauchou (USA), Hung Chien-yao (TPE).
79 – Mathiam Keyser (RSA), Mardan Mamat (SIN), Chanat Sakulpolphaisan (THA), Sangpil Yoon (KOR), Yoseop Seo (KOR), Neil Schietekat (RSA), Tomoyo Ikemura (JPN).
80 – El Mehdi Fakori (am, MAR), Saleh Alkaabi (am, QAT), Ian Snyman (RSA).
81 – Nicholas Fung (MAS), Wang Wei-hsuan (TPE), David Hague (ENG), Faisal Salhab (KSA).
83 – Marcus Fraser (AUS).
84 – Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA).

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