Young talent William Sjaichudin of Indonesia opened with a sizzling six-under-par 66 to share the clubhouse lead with local veteran Prayad Marksaeng at the weather-disrupted Thongchai Jaidee Foundation on Thursday.
The 24-year-old Indonesian nailed seven birdies against a lone bogey to match the efforts of nine-time Asian Tour winner Prayad, who returned with a blemish-free round highlighted by six birdies, in the four million baht (approximately US$111,808) Asian Development Tour (ADT) event.
The leading duo holds a one-shot advantage over local prospects Pannakorn Uthaipas, Thitiphun Chuayprakong and Singapore’s Lam Chih Bing, who shared third place following identical 67s, at the Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin.
Tournament host Thongchai Jaidee produced a 68 to lie two shots back in tied-sixth position while playing partner and reigning ADT Order of Merit champion Pavit Tangkomolprasert posted a 70 to grab a share of 23rd place.
Sjaichudin, who started from the 10th tee, rode on a hot putter to cap a remarkable round highlighted by a 12-foot par putt on the par-three 11th hole.
“I hit a lot of fairways which is the key to play well here. I gave myself opportunities to attack the pins although the pin positions were tough today. I had a couple of good par saves as well. I putted solid. I am a long hitter as well which is a good advantage playing on this golf course,” said Sjaichudin, who turned professional last January.
Prayad, who has claimed four titles this year including a win on the Asian Tour, took advantage of the relatively calm morning conditions to extend his fine form.
“I played in the morning today and the conditions were good. My game is in good shape and I was just trying to ride on my good form. However, I wasn’t able to control my putting as I missed a couple of short putts for birdies out there. I will have to work on that before the next round tomorrow,” said the 49-year-old Thai.
“It is great to come back and play in my home town and I am very happy to see all my friends here. It is not very often that we get together. This is not just a competition for me. I want to show my support to Thongchai by playing in this ADT tournament. It’s my pleasure to share my experiences with the young players out here this week,” added Prayad.
Thunderstorms in the afternoon had forced play to be suspended at 3.25pm local time before officials subsequently abandoned play at 4.45pm due to continuous rain.
All 78 players from the afternoon session, including Thai stars Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Thaworn Wiratchant and Prom Meesawat, have to return to the Black Mountain Golf Club at 7am on Friday to complete their opening rounds.
The sponsors of the Thongchai Jaidee Foundation 2015 include SINGHA, Betagro, Idemitsu, Tune Insurance, Mazda, Ricoh, Oakley and Golf Pride.
The ADT will continue to reward the top-five finishers on the Order of Merit at the end of this season with Asian Tour cards for 2016.
With the Olympic Games looming in 2016 where golf will be reintroduced as a medal sport, players in the region could earn their spots in Rio de Janeiro by earning Official World Golf Ranking points through the Asian Tour and ADT.
For more information on the ADT, please visit www.asiandevelopmenttour.com
Leading first round scores:
66 – William SJAICHUDIN (INA) , Prayad MARKSAENG (THA)
67 – Pannakorn UTHAIPAS (THA) , Thitiphun CHUAYPRAKONG (THA) , LAM Chih Bing (SIN)
68 – Apisit NIMNUAL (THA) , Kitdanai SUPHASIRISES (THA) , Mitchell SLORACH (SIN) , Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA) , Phiphatphong NAEWSUK (THA) , Panuwat MUENLEK (THA) , Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) , Sattaya SUPUPRAMAI (THA) , Pariya JUNHASAVASDIKUL (THA)
69 – Kasidit LEPKURTE (THA) , Varan ISRABHAKDI (THA) , Thammanoon SRIROJ (THA) , Jordan IRAWAN (INA) , Somkiat SRISA-NGA (THA) , Phachara KHONGWATMAI (THA) , Sutijet KOORATANAPISAN (THA) , Greg MOSS (USA)
70 – Pijit PETCHKASEM (THA) , Pornsakon TIPSANIT (THA) , Michael TRAN (VIE) , Chapchai NIRAT (THA) , Casey O’TOOLE (USA) , Pavit TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA)
71 – Nakarintra RATANAKUL (THA) , Peradol PANYATHANASEDH (THA) , Chiragh KUMAR (IND) , Pattaraphol KHANTHACHA (THA)