NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat began his bid to end a four-year title drought by grabbing a share of the lead with six-under-par 66 at the SAIL-SBI Open on Wednesday.
Armed with a hot putter, the 29-year-old Thai nailed eight birdies, as against two bogeys, at the par-72 Delhi Golf Club to jointly lead the Asian Tour event he famously won four years back with local rookie Khalin Joshi.
Nicknamed ‘King Kong’ for his big-hitting game, Chapchai set a Tour record for 72-hole total with his 32-under-par 256 victory in 2009 at a different course on the outskirts of Delhi.
Seeking his fourth Asian Tour title, he displayed signs of the same ominous form in Wednesday’s opening round.
“My putting was very good today,” he said. “I stuck to my new putting routine and didn’t take too much time over my putts. I feel confident for the rest of the week.”
Playing his maiden Asian Tour event as pro, 20-year-old Joshi missed what could have been his 10th birdie from 10 feet on his last hole to share the lead with Chapchai.
“I putted really well today. I’ve been hitting the ball well the past few weeks but the putter was hot today, made quite a few,” said Joshi.
“I‘m going to approach the rest of the week like how I did today, just play within myself. This is the first week I am not playing with my driver. I’ll do that the whole week. Just keep the same attitude.”
Korean-American Chan Kim came up with a couple of chip-in birdies to move into contention in his rookie season on the Tour.
“I was pretty shocked when I got here,” said the 22-year-old, who trailed the leaders by a shot after sinking six birdies and a bogey in the opening round.
“My partners in Myanmar were telling me how narrow it (the fairway) was and I looked online and it didn’t look as narrow. But when I stepped on the first tee on Monday, I kind of got a taste of how it really is,” he said.
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty,; editing by Pritha Sarkar