PATTAYA, Thailand: Defending champion Kasidit Lepkurte shot a 5-under-par 65 on Thursday to move into a share of the lead at the Singha Pattaya Open, alongside Tirawat Kaewsiribandit, Pawin Ingkhapradit and qualifier Siri Sirichareon.
Kasidit started his defence in style, picking up three unanswered birdies and a closing eagle at the Burapha Golf & Resort in Chon Buri, before admitting to having room for improvement.
“I am happy to start with such a good round. I putted better on the back nine and it is nice to finish with an eagle” said Kasidit, who triumphed by a narrow one shot margin at last year’s event.
“But, there is something to improve. I must hit more fairways and keep a ball in play.”
Tirawat, who won the 2018 edition, left the testing Burapha layout satisfied with a round that featured six birdies and only one bogey.
“I am quite happy with my score. The key is that I putted really well,” said Tirawat. “The wind got up in the afternoon but I managed to play play my own game.
“This course really tests your skills, with deep rough placing a heavy onus on your tee-to-green game”
Kasidit and Tirawat are bidding to become only the fourth player to successfully defend the title after Prayad Marksaeng (2014-15), Thaworn Wiratchant (2003-04) and Prom Meesawat (2011-12).
But such an accolade is not at the forefront of Kasit’s thoughts.
“It is nice to get off to that good start. But there are three more rounds to play. I am not thinking about it yet,” Kasidit said.
The leading foursome lie a stroke ahead of a group of seven players that includes, Sangchai Kaewcharoen, Poosit Supupramai, Nitithorn Thippong, Wisut Artjanawat, amateur Vanchai Laugnnitikul, Raththee Sirithanakunsak and Krittin Sunthornnon.
Veterans Prayad Marsaeng and Thongchai Jaidee could only muster 71 and 73 respectively and will be looking for some magic on day two to make an impact on the leaderboard.
The fan-free tournament, which serves as the fourth leg of the All Thailand Golf Tour 2020, has a total purse of 3-million baht. The winner will take home 450,000 baht and a projected seven world ranking points.