Atthaya in 5-way lead with men after Thailand Mixed II first round
Teen star Atthaya Thitikul carded an opening 66 to share the lead with four male golfers after round one of the Bt-3 million Thailand Mixed II presented by Trust Golf at the Alpine Golf Resort in Lamphun on Thursday.
Atthaya, 18, generated seven birdies (five on the front nine) against a lone bogey on the 13th hole to top the leader board with four-time Asian Tour winner Chapchai Nirat, former European Tour player Phachara Kongwatmai, one-time Asian Development Tour winner Kasidit Lepkurte and Matt Killen of England. The par-72 course stretches 7,200 yards off the men’s tees and 6,163 yards for the women.
“It’s a very good start for me,” said Atthaya, riding momentum from her win at the Phoenix Ladies Classic in Pattaya three weeks ago. “The course is quite narrow, so you need to be patient out there,” added the teenager, who finished second behind Arpichaya Yubol in the Thailand Mixed I in February.
“There are some holes where you need a good game plan instead of being aggressive. Also, I couldn’t land my iron shots in the positions that I aimed for,” said Atthaya, after the spectator-free round under Covid restrictions.
“The tournament has been organised well with all the players following required procedures for pandemic protection.”
Chapchai gave a textbook lesson in precision play to take the outright lead on 9-under after 14 holes. However, accuracy deserted him in the last four holes where he succumbed to three bogeys.
“It’s still an incredible round for me,” said the 37-year-old from Phitsanulok. “I missed the cut last week [in the Thai PGA Tour]. To be honest, I’m only 60 per cent ready in terms of my physical condition. I haven’t been out on tour much because of the Covid-19 situation,” added Chapchai, who holds the Asian Tour record 72-hole score with his 32-under-par in the final round of the 2009 Sail Open.
Playing his first tournament of the year, young gun Phachara sank a finishing birdie to propel him into the joint lead.
“Hitting 6-under in the first round of my first tournament in a long time is not so bad. I still need to get my momentum though,” said the 21-year-old from the South.
One shot behind is 16-year-old Pattamavadee Kittikanok, who hit a 67 along with Raththee Sirithanakulsak.
“I’m very pleased with my approach shots today. I hit close to the pins and had a lot of birdie opportunities,” said the teen, who benefited from her familiarity with the landscape. “I used to play this course as an amateur so I am used to the conditions.”