Phadungsil, Joshi share lead as host shows fight
Chinnarat Phadungsil of Thailand and Khalin Joshi of India fired identical seven-under-par 65s to share the clubhouse lead in the first round of the weather-interrupted Bank BRI-JCB Indonesia Open on Thursday.
Meanwhile, amateur Almay Rayhan Yaqutah led the local charge by shooting an impressive 68 to tie in ninth place alongside Quincy Quek of Singapore, Ben Leong of Malaysia, Victor Osterby of Denmark and Nicolas Paez of the United States.
Phadungsil, a three-time Asian Tour champion, but not since 2009, and Joshi are fighting to retain their playing rights for next year as they currently occupy the 73rd and 113th places on the Order of Merit. They must finish inside the top 65 by the end of the season to retain their Tour cards.
The US$300,000 Asian Tour event was suspended for more than two hours in the afternoon because of lightning threats before fading light forced play to be abandoned at 5:45 p.m. A total of 56 players will return on Friday at 6:15 a.m. to complete their rounds at the Pondok Indah Golf Course.
Hung Chien-yao of Chinese Taipei, who is searching for a first Asian Tour title, fired a bogey-free 66 while Korea’s Soonsang Hong, Sukree Othman of Malaysia and two-time Asian Tour winner Jazon Knutzon of the US, who is also fighting to save his Tour card, are a further shot back.
The 28-year-old Phadungsil, who holds the honor of being the youngest winner on the Asian Tour at the age of 17 years and 5 days, rediscovered some of his best form by staying focused and keeping to a simple game plan.
He fired nine birdies, but slipped down the leaderboard when he triple-bogeyed the par three eighth hole after his tee shot landed in the greenside bunker.
“I hope this will be my lucky week and I can win again to get my Asian Tour card. I lost confidence, but I’ve been trying hard to get that win again,” said Phadungsil.
The big-hitting Joshi is hoping to follow in the footsteps of his close friend Shubhankar Sharma, who finished tied fourth in the Philippines on Sunday to retain his Tour card for the new 2017 season.
The 24-year-old Hung, who finished tied seventh in the Philippines last week, continued exploiting his rich vein of form after working with new caddy Chen Ming-chuan, who is also his coach and a professional golfer.
The 18-year-old Almay, the individual and team gold medalist at the 2014 ASEAN School Games, fired five birdies against one bogey to enjoy a flying start in his first Asian Tour tournament.
“I really had fun today. This is a very good experience for me to play in an Asian Tour event. I’m feeling very happy and excited but after I looked at the score, I’m shaking a bit. Shooting a 68 in an Asian Tour event is quite impressive,” he said.
The tournament is the country’s oldest golf competition and was among the most prestigious on the Asian Tour’s agenda.
The last Indonesian who won the tournament was the late Kasiadi in 1989.
Chairman of Indonesian Golf Association (PGI) Murdaya Poo earlier said the tournament has provided a bigger chance for Indonesian talents to sharpen their skills and collect more scores for future international events.