Jake Higginbottom of Australia battled to a four-under-par 68 in blustery conditions to take the opening round lead at the Yeangder Heritage on Thursday.

The 23-year-old Higginbottom, who regained his Asian Tour card through Qualifying School earlier this year, returned with five birdies against one bogey on a rain and wind swept day at the National Golf Country Club.

Chikkarangappa S. of India, Danthai Boonma of Thailand, Sung Mao-chang of Chinese Taipei and 18-year-old Sangpil Yoon of Korea were a further shot back in tied second place at the US$300,000 Asian Tour event.

After failing to secure a Tour card for last season, Higginbottom bounced back by finishing in tied fifth place at the Qualifying School earlier this year. He also secured a 12th place result at the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth in February.

The talented Chikkarangappa, who is searching for a first win, struggled in the cold weather early in the round but three birdies on his homeward nine lifted him to a share of second place.

Danthai, who won his first Asian Tour title in 2015, stayed focussed in the tricky conditions to return with a bogey-free round highlighted by three birdies while Sung led the local charge with an opening 69.

Korean teenager and Asian Tour rookie Yoon, whose father was on his bag, got off to a flying start when he carded five birdies against two bogeys to trail the leader by one shot.

Did you know? 

  • Higginbottom found 14 greens in regulation play today and holed 28 putts in his round of five birdies and one bogey.
  • He is searching for a first Asian Tour victory this week. His best finish on the Asian Tour was a tied fourth result at the 2014 Dubai Open.
  • Higginbottom finished in 83rd place on the 2015 Asian Tour Order of Merit to lose his card for 2016. He returned to Qualifying School earlier this year where he finished in a share of fifth place.
  • Chikkarangga played at the National Golf Country Club on the Asian Development Tour last year and was bogey-free for 65 holes. He dropped five shots in his closing seven holes and missed joining the play-off between eventual winner Pavit Tangkamolprasert and Lin Wen-tang by a single shot.
  • He enjoyed his best season on the Asian Tour in 2016, thanks to four top-10 results including a tied third place finish at the Venetian Macao Open.
  • Danthai is one of three players inside the top-10 who returned with a flawless card. The other two players are Chawalit Plaphol and Chen Ming-chuan.
  • A total of 16 players finished in red numbers after 18 holes. The toughest hole on the course was the 486-yard par four 17th hole. Only one player scored birdie on this hole. 

Players’ Quotes:

Jake Higginbottom (Aus) – First Round 68 (-4) 

I played really solid out there. I only had one bogey but that’s okay because it was tough out there. It was challenging but the fairways are still wide so it was forgivable.

I lost my Tour card for last year so I was just playing on the local circuit. I went back to Qualifying School again at the start of the year and got my card back so I’m trying to get back on track again.

I’ve been working hard and driving the ball a lot better. I’m putting the ball in play so it is a lot easier hitting from the fairways than from the trees (laughs).

You don’t want to go back to Qualifying School, ever. Hopefully I can keep plodding along and be there on Sunday.

Chikkarangappa S. (Ind) – First Round 69 (-3) 

Looking at the weather, I’m quite surprised I shot a 69. I had a great day. I putted well and made sure I didn’t make any mistakes.

When we played the practice rounds it was bright and sunny but today two layers are not good enough. To be honest, I was laughing at myself because I missed two 2-footer putts. I was standing over the ball and the wind really blew at me and I pulled my putts.

I haven’t had a great start yet. I’ve made some changes and obviously things are not falling into place yet. It is getting better and I’m getting more confident. I’m sure there is a solid week coming up.

I have great memories on this golf course. I went 65 holes without any bogeys but I lost the tournament because of a bad finish. I want to make sure that I don’t make those mistakes again this week. 

Danthai Boonma (Tha) – First Round 69 (-3)

It is a very good score because the weather was so bad this morning. It was raining and windy. Yes, I’m very surprised I have no bogey today!

When I came this morning and saw the weather, I was shocked so I focused on finding the fairways and try to score. During the practice days, the weather was so nice.My game is okay but I need to improve on my short game.

Actually, every tournament in Chinese Taipei is windy so I’m used to it. The courses here suit my game because the grass and the greens are the same like courses in Thailand.

Sangpil Yoon (Kor) – First Round 69 (-3)

My plan today was to make a lot of pars but I have so many birdies so I’m very happy. The weather was so bad because it rain and it was so windy. My caddy is my father so we talked to each other on the course. After my front nine I was three-under-par and I told him that I can shoot a 65 but I got into trouble on my back nine. I turned professional last year.


Scores after round 1 of the Yeangder Heritage being played at the par 72, 7014 Yards National GcC course (am – denotes amateur):


69 – Chikkarangappa S. (IND), Danthai BOONMA (THA), Sangpil YOON (KOR), SUNG Mao-chang (TPE).

70 – Rattanon WANNASRICHAN (THA), Micah Lauren SHIN (USA), Chawalit PLAPHOL (THA), Terry PILKADARIS (AUS).

71 – CHEN Ming-chuan (TPE), PENG Hung-ching (TPE), Natipong SRITHONG (THA), Jarin TODD (USA), Shiv KAPUR (IND), Niall TURNER (IRL), Gavin GREEN (MAS).

72 – FANG Yin-jen (TPE), John CATLIN (USA), Yikeun CHANG (KOR), Danny CHIA (MAS), CHAN Yih-shin (TPE), Poom SAKSANSIN (THA), Keith HORNE (RSA), Sutijet KOORATANAPISAN (THA), Javi COLOMO (ESP), Pannakorn UTHAIPAS (THA), LU Wen-teh (TPE), WANG Tsung-chieh (TPE), Shunya TAKEYASU (JPN), Khalin JOSHI (IND), Miguel TABUENA (PHI), HUNG Chien-yao (TPE), Settee PRAKONGVECH (THA).

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