Thailand’s Suradit Yongcharoenchai shot a solid opening four-under-par 68 in difficult windy conditions to take the clubhouse lead in the US$2.5 million International Series Qatar today at Doha Golf Club.
Canadian Richard T. Lee, Sangmoon Bae from Korea and Thailand’s Phachara Khongwatmai came in with 69s, while South Africans Charl Schwartzel and Darren Fichardt and Travis Smyth from Australia shot 70s – in the third event of the season on the Asian Tour and the second of the year’s International Series tournaments.
Australia’s John Lyras and Todd Sinnott, Andy Ogletree from the United States, Indian Jyoti Randhawa, Malaysian Ben Leong, Filipino Miguel Tabuena, Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant, Nitithorn Thippong and Gunn Charoenkul, and Saudi Arabian Saud Alsharif all carded 71s.
Suradit finished late in the day, unlike the three trailing him in second who played in the morning, and took the outright lead with a birdie on his last hole, the par-five ninth, having started his round on the back.
The 24-year-old Thai, a winner once before on the Asian Tour at the 2019 Mercuries Taiwan Masters, made five birdies and dropped one shot.
In hot pursuit is Lee a two-time winner on the Asian Tour who came close to winning two International Series events last year in Singapore and Morocco before finishing runner up on both occasions.
“I made a few good long putts in my round and just kept it in play, windy conditions so you have to keep it in the fairways and get it on the green to have putts that can go in,” said the Canadian.
“I think I converted that pretty well even though I had two bogeys out there, I’m looking forward to tomorrows round.
It was an encouraging round, made up of five birdies and two bogeys, for Lee considering he had to retire from last week’s International Series Oman as he was feeling unwell.
He added: “Yeah I’m feeling about 70% healthy again and hopefully the next three days I can hold up and play the round I played today.”
Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, was happy to make a good start considering the difficult conditions, which saw the wind reach gusts of 35 kilometres per hour.
He said: “Yeah, I thought teeing off early we would get a little bit of benefit with the wind, but we didn’t, so spent most the day in pretty strong conditions and thought I played really well. You always feel like when you played well you always feel like you could have left a few out there but in these conditions two under will be good.”
Smyth was equally as happy to come in under par while battling the breeze.
“I feel awesome, I was joking around saying it’s just another day back where I’m from, it’s super. super windy in Sydney,” said the Australian.
“I just embraced it and felt like I got some control of my golf ball so just tried to use the wind to my advantage and yeah everything kind of went my way. I hit a few loose shots and found my ball and was able to scramble for pars. I got a little lucky combined with some good golf, so I’m stoked.”
Indians Gaganjeet Bhullar and Shiv Kapur and American Dru Love, the son of PGA Tour star Davis Love III, are in a group of players on 72.
A total of nine players will resume their rounds at 6.40am local time on Friday with the second round scheduled to start at 6.20am as planned.