Thailand’s Sarit Suwannarut posted an eagle on each nine in the first round of the Mandiri Indonesia Open 2023, securing a single shot lead and boosting his confidence as he bids to get his season back on track.

The double eagle was, to his recollection after the round, the first he’s shot in a tournament, and he paid tribute to feeling quite at home in Indonesia on his first visit since securing victory at the Indonesian Masters at the end of last year. 

“I’m feeling really good, feeling comfortable. It’s been a challenging year. Play has not been really good in the first half but I’m feeling better now so hopefully I can keep going,” he said after his round.

Five birdies and one bogey saw Sarit post an eight-under-par round of 64 at the US$500,000 Asian Tour event which is being played at Pondok Indah Golf Course in Jakarta from August 3-6. 

“My driver and irons were alright today, but the main thing was the putting, it was really good today. I saw the line on every hole, and everything seemed to drop.

“On the last, the tee shot wasn’t good, in the left bunker, but I got a good lie and hit it to the front of the green. I made the putt somehow,” he laughed. 

Korea’s Woohyun Kim (65), who took advantage of an unexpected eagle in the morning session to post the early clubhouse lead on seven-under-par, said he appreciated his good fortune but felt he was ready to compete after a disappointing showing at the event last year.

Starting on the back nine, he set the early pace by scoring four birdies, including a run of three on his way to the par five 18th hole, but the hole-out from around 30 yards caught him by surprise.

“It was a good start today, I made birdie on the first hole. On the 18th, I thought my third shot was a little bit long but the bounce was soft and it rolled in to the hole. It looked like it would end up a few feet away but it got to the hole and made eagle. I wasn’t expecting it, but I’ll take it.”

Kim said after his round that it been an improvement over his previous performance in the event. “I played here last year, I liked the course and made the cut but finished almost last. Today I’m playing better than before, my irons, all shots are better than last year.”

A birdie finish on his last hole saw Australia’s Scott Hend (65) edge into a share of second place with Kim on -7 and the Australian was bullish on his prospects for the week.

“Yeah, it’s alright. I mean we had lift, clean and place out there so it’s playing a bit easier obviously. Scoring is going to be quite low this week because the greens are alright and they are quite receptive so I’ve just got to keep plugging along. It’s nice to get a good first round instead of trying to chase all the time and let’s see if we can have another low one tomorrow.”

Despite being an Asian Tour veteran who is turning 50 in 12 days, Hend feels he is still able to compete with the younger guys on tour.

“It’s really no difference, is it? I’m still fit, I think I’m fitter than a lot of the young guys out here. I intend to play golf for a long time and hopefully they keep seeing me in the rear view mirror catching them,” he aid after his round.

Korea’s Doyeob Mun (65) joined the group in second with eight birdies and a dropped shot on the ninth hole.

Ryo Hisatsune (66), who shared fifth place on six-under-par with Richard T. Lee of Canada after the morning wave, said he was also pleased with his round, his first time playing at Pondok Indah.

“Tee shots were important today,” he said after posting his score. “If you can be aggressive and find the fairway, get within 100 yards, you can make birdie. It’s my first time here, the course is a little narrow, and a bit scary.

Completing the group in fifth place were Thailand’s Nitithorn Thippong and Chang Wei-lun of Chinese Taipei.

Thailand’s Panuphol Pittayarat (67) finished the morning with a share of ninth place on five-under-par, joining fellow Thai golfer Settee Prakongvech and the Indonesian duo of Elki Kow and amateur Gabriel Hansel Hari.

Panuphol, affectionately known as Coconut, is coming back to the tour after a prolonged spell with injury. He said his approach game was one of the highlights of his round. “I gave myself a lot of chances. I kind of left a couple out there but I made more, so yeah it was a good day.”

The former Indonesian Open champion, who won at Pondok Indah in 2017, has fond memories of the victory, which was also his first win on the Asian Tour. “It’s always a special place where you win your first event and it’s always fun to come back.”

On the recovery trail, Panuphol is looking to build momentum with a good performance this week.

“The season so far has been very slow. I got off my medical exemption so I didn’t keep my card, and I got in this week in the past champion category. Obviously I want to win this week, that’s my first priority, get back on tour as fast as possible, other than that just have to be healthy, that’s my main goal.

Kow (67), playing in his fourth Indonesian Open, was reasonably upbeat after his round.

“I didn’t hit my tee shots very well, but I managed to get it on the green and then I putted pretty well today,” he told reporters after his round.

He briefly held the lead after a stretch of four birdies in a row on the back nine, including a long thirty-footer on 16, but a bogey on the last dropped him back into a share of ninth place on five-under-par.

Even the dropped shot on 18 couldn’t dampen his mood, and he was quick to dismiss suggestions of nerves while holding the early lead on the closing hole. “I just made a wrong decision, that’s all.
“I’ve been here for four Indonesian Opens now, I usually don’t perform very well, but I took away any expectations going in today. In my mind I just wanted to be happy today, post a good score and stay in a good mood.

Of the other finishers after round one, Malaysia’s Shahriffuddin Ariffin leads a multi-national group in 13th place on four-under-par, together with Australia’s Denzil Ieremia and Terry Pilkadaris, the Indian duo of Rashid Khan and Kartik Sharma, Steve Lewton of England, Thailand’s Suradit Yongcharoenchai, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit and Pavit Tangkamolprasert, MJ Viljoen of South Africa, Korea’s Minkyu Kim and David Drysdale of Scotland.

Scores after round 1 of the Mandiri Indonesia Open being played at the par 72, 7243 Yards Pondok Indah GC course (am – denotes amateur):
64 – Sarit Suwannarut (THA).
65 – Woohyun Kim (KOR), Scott Hend (AUS), Doyeob Mun (KOR).
66 – Ryo Hisatsune (JPN), Richard T. Lee (CAN), Chang Wei-lun (TPE), Nitithorn Thippong (THA).
67 – Elki Kow (INA), Panuphol Pittayarat (THA), Settee Prakongvech (THA), Gabriel Hansel Hari (am, INA).
68 – Shahriffuddin Ariffin (MAS), Denzel Ieremia (NZL), Steve Lewton (ENG), Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA), MJ Viljoen (RSA), Terry Pilkadaris (AUS), Minkyu Kim (KOR), Rashid Khan (IND), Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA), David Drysdale (SCO), Tirawat Kaewsiribandit (THA), Kartik Sharma (IND).
69 – Kurnia Herisian Santoso (INA), Nasin Surachman (INA), Angelo Que (PHI), Deyen Lawson (AUS), Lu Wei-chih (TPE), Hung Chien-yao (TPE), Gunn Charoenkul (THA), Hanmil Jung (KOR), Lee Chieh-po (TPE), Marcus Fraser (AUS), Miguel Tabuena (PHI), Taichi Kho (HKG), Yongjun Bae (KOR), Wang Wei-hsuan (TPE), Randy Abemata M Bintang (am, INA).
70 – Sangpil Yoon (KOR), Ye Wocheng (CHN), Ervin Chang (MAS), Berry Henson (USA), Tom Power Horan (AUS), Runchanapong Youprayong (THA), Douglas Klein (AUS), Matthew Cheung (HKG), Suteepat Prateeptienchai (THA), Natipong Srithong (THA), Atiruj WIDNicharoenchai (THA), Dodge Kemmer (USA), Siddikur Rahman (BAN).
71 – Chanat Sakulpolphaisan (THA), Yonggu Shin (CAN), S. Chikkarangappa (IND), Tanapat Pichaikool (THA), Michael Maguire (USA), Lloyd Go (PHI), Chen Guxin (CHN), Sadom Kaewkanjana (THA), Dongmin Lee (KOR), Viraj Madappa (IND), Jaco Ahlers (RSA), Micah Lauren Shin (USA).
72 – Josh Younger (AUS), Harrison Gilbert-Wong (AUS), Ben Jones (ENG), Indra Hermawan (INA), Sattaya Supupramai (THA), Miguel Carballo (ARG), Jarin Todd (USA), Todd Sinnott (AUS), Veer Ahlawat (IND), Alex Ching (USA), Bradley Taslim (INA), Kosuke Hamamoto (THA), Benita Kasiadi (INA), Mingyu Cho (KOR), Kevin Akbar (INA), Jack Thompson (AUS), Ben Leong (MAS), Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA), Poom Saksansin (THA), S.S.P. Chawrasia (IND), Chonlatit Chuenboonngam (THA), Almay Rayhan Yagutah (INA), Robby Sugara (INA).
73 – Fadhli Soetarso (INA), Koh Deng Shan (SIN), Jaewoong Eom (KOR), George Gandranata (INA), Chan Shih-chang (TPE), Itthipat Buranatanyarat (THA), Khalin Joshi (IND), Danny Masrin (INA), Soomin Lee (KOR), Seungtaek Lee (KOR), Kentaro Nanayama (am, INA), Jonathan Wijono (INA), Chapchai Nirat (THA), Ian Snyman (RSA), Sam Brazel (AUS), Amadeus Christi Susanto (am, INA), Akshay Sharma (IND).
74 – Nathan C Widjaya (am, INA), Denwit Boriboonsub (THA), Jack Murdoch (AUS), Rahil Gangjee (IND), Hendri Nasim (INA), Aman Raj (IND), Prom Meesawat (THA), Ben Campbell (NZL), Peter Gunawan (INA), Jonathan Hartono (am, INA), Asep Saefulloh (INA), Mardan Mamat (SIN), Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND), Rory Hie (INA), Matt Sharpstene (USA).
75 – Teuku Husein M. Danindra (am, INA), Pawin Ingkhapradit (THA), Yikeun Chang (KOR), Karandeep Kochhar (IND), Justin Quiban (PHI), Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND), Varanyu Rattanaphiboonkij (THA), Nicholas Fung (MAS), Rusli Abu Abu Bakar (INA).
76 – Achmad Fani Nazaruddin (am, INA), Jordan Indra Marcello (am, INA), Ramadhan Alwie (INA), Zulharmen Tabusalla (INA), Naraajie Ramadhanputra (INA), Honey Baisoya (IND), Zhengkai Bai (CHN), Danthai Boonma (THA).
77 – Joshua Wirawan (INA), Michael Tran (VNM), Nicolas Paez (USA), Kenneth Henson Sutianto (am, INA), Alit Jiwandana (am, INA).
78 – Nicholas Voke (NZL), S. Syukrizal (INA).
79 – Rizchy Subakti (INA), Jamel Ondo (INA), Taeyoung Lim (am, KOR).
82 – Gordan Brixi (CZE), Yudiansyah Y. (INA).
86 – Ryan Jovan Wijaya (am, INA).
Taewoo Kim #1468, Korea – RT

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