Birdie machines Kho and Itthipat set early pace

Birdie machines Kho and Itthipat set early pace

Itthipat Buranatanyarat lines up a putt during the first round. Asian Tour Graham Uden
Itthipat Buranatanyarat lines up a putt during the first round. Asian Tour Graham Uden

Jakarta: Hong Kong's impressive young amateur star Taichi Kho and Thailand's Itthipat Buranatanyarat fired stunning bogey-free eight-under-par 64s to take the clubhouse lead in the rain and lightning-interrupted first round of the Mandiri Indonesia Open yesterday at Pondok Indah Golf Course.

Kho, ranked 100th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking, sensationally took the lead in a professional event for the first time when he holed his third shot on the par-five ninth hole, which was his 18th, to join Itthipat at the top of the leaderboard.

A total of 59 players where unable to finish due to two weather delays earlier before play was abandoned due to fading light.

Two of Thailand's most decorated golfers Prayad Marksaeng and Chapchai Nirat shot 65s, while Tirawat Kaewsiribandit carded a 66.

Indonesian amateur Almay Rayhan Yagutah impressively flew the flag for the host nation with a 67, along with Taiwan's Chang Wei-lun.

The US$500,000 event is the 11th stop of the season on the Asian Tour.

"It was great," said Kho, whose father Victor is caddying for him. "I was really happy with the way I played. I stuck to my game plan. I managed to hit some good shots on my back nine.

"On nine I was out of position off the tee, but I managed to get it back in play. I had 93 yards for my approach, I hit it really nice, but I did not expect it to go in."

"Eight birdies, no bogeys, wow!" said Itthipat.

"I could see the lines on the greens, and my caddie did as well. And I like the course, I have played well here before."

He played in two LIV Golf Invitational events this year, in London and Portland, and feels he is a better player for the experience.

"I played with the big names and learned so much. I have reset the things I work on now because of it," he added.

Ten-time Asian Tour winner Prayad, aged 56, rolled back the years making seven birdies and no bogeys.

"It's my first time playing here, so I didn't expect too much, just planned to stay on the fairway. Luckily, my tee shots were the best part of my game today," said the Thai veteran, who won on the senior tour in Thailand in May.

"And, I made a great birdie on the first hole, that helped."

Chapchai, a four-time winner on the Tour, also had a seven-birdie, bogey-free round. The 39-year-old has not won on Asian Tour since 2014.

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