Yangon, January 25: Thailand’s Rattanon Wannasrichan delivered a short game masterclass by firing a flawless six-under-par 65 to set the early pace at the US$750,000 Leopalace21 Myanmar Open on Thursday.
The 22-year-old Thai displayed the form that led him to his maiden victory on home soil last year by cruising through with a sparkling first round which was highlighted by six birdies at the Pun Hlaing Golf Club.
Myanmar’s Naing Naing Lin showed why he is the country’s top player when he returned with a 67 to trail Rattanon by two shots. He was among the five players bunched in tied-second place which also included 2016 Leopalace21 Myanmar Open champion Shaun Norris of South Africa.
Lin, a father-of-two, believes it is his combination of skills and luck that brought him close to the leaderboard summit while Norris relished another happy return to Myanmar at the US$750,000 event which is sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO).
Australia’s Kieran Pratt, who put aside his golf clubs and spent two years working in a construction company in Melbourne, delighted himself with a 68 to take a share of seventh place as he continues to rebuild his professional golf career.
The Australian is now hoping for a strong performance which can be the catalyst for him to return to the heights of 2012 when he won his lone Asian Tour title at the Myanmar Open.
Star attraction Ryo Ishikawa of Japan posted an opening 70 to take a share of 34th place, five shots back of Rattanon.
Did you know?
- Thailand’s Rattanon Wannasrichan earned his maiden breakthrough on the Asian Tour with a wire-to-wire victory at his National Open in May last year.
- Rattanon also represented Thailand during his amateur days and won the team and individual gold medals at the 2011 Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia.
- The Thai hit 16 greens in regulation and made a total of 29 putts today.
- Naing Naing Lin played six tournaments on the domestic tour in Myanmar, winning three of them and finishing inside the top-10 twice to emerge as the country’s Order of Merit champion.
- The 33-year-old turned professional in 2007 and plays mostly in Myanmar.
- Shaun Norris is currently leading the Asian Tour Order of Merit thanks to his tied-second result at the season opening event in Singapore last week.
- Norris followed up his maiden Asian Tour victory in Chinese Taipei in 2015 with his second win at the 2016 Leopalace21 Myanmar Open.
- Kieran Pratt is playing in his first event that offers Official World Ranking points in two years.
- He missed the grade at Qualifying School after finishing tied-57th and spent the last two years working at a construction company in Melbourne.
Rattanon Wannasrichan (Tha) First round Six-under-par 65
The course conditions are almost similar to last year. The greens are very hard and fast. You got to be really accurate off the tee here. I putted well and that was key. I’ve been practicing a lot off-season and changed the way I hit the ball. My ball flight is now different and I’m able to control the ball better now. I missed the cut by two shots last year and I hope to do better this week. I hope to end the year inside the top-10 on the Asian Tour Order of Merit
Shaun Norris (Rsa) First round Four-under-par 67
I played nicely today. I played solid and I’m very happy with my round. I can’t complain about the weather and course conditions. It was absolutely perfect out there. The greenkeepers have done well. Winning the Myanmar Open in 2016 was a massive stepping stone for me so it’s always nice to come back. I’m very happy with my game at the moment. I’m playing each hole as it is. I’m not expecting too much but I’m very happy with where I’m at the moment.
Naing Naing Lin (Myn) First round Four-under-par 67
I played well but I was also lucky. I’ve been hitting the ball well. I hit 17 greens in regulation and only hit one shot into the bunker on six for a bogey. The Myanmar PGA organised several practice rounds for us before this week’s tournament and I’m happy I took full advantage of those practice sessions.
Kieran Pratt (Aus) First round Three-under-par 68
That win (2012 Myanmar Open victory) seems so long ago. I was working full-time in a building company back in Melbourne but I was playing weekend golf with my mates and shooting some really low scores. I was not really playing well back then and thought I had to do something else for a while. But deep inside, I always enjoy being on the golf course and thought there’s where I should be. My last day with the building company was 21st December last year as I tried to get ready for Qualifying School. Unfortunately I did not make the grade. I’m hoping to return to the game slowly and plot my way back again.
Ryo Ishikawa (Jpn) First round One-under-par 70
I wish I was able to play one or two shot better today. I was two-under after 15 holes and I missed a four-foot putt on 15 and missed another birdie putt on the last. But it’s okay, it’s still an under-par round and there’s still everything to play for. The weather’s very good today. It was little hot and the greens were firmer than yesterday.
Leading scores after round 1 of the LeoPalace21 Myanmar Open 2018 being played at the par 71, 7103 Yards Pun Hliang GC course (am – denotes amateur):
65 – Rattanon WANNASRICHAN (THA).
67 – Naing Naing LIN (MYN), Shaun NORRIS (RSA), David OH (USA), Masahiro KAWAMURA (JPN), Seungsu HAN (USA).
68 – Berry HENSON (USA), Casey O’TOOLE (USA), Kieran PRATT (AUS), Lionel WEBER (FRA), Poom SAKSANSIN (THA), Junwon PARK (KOR), Rikuya HOSHINO (JPN), Scott VINCENT (ZIM), Paul PETERSON (USA), Pavit TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA), Mikumu HORIKAWA (JPN), Keith HORNE (RSA).
69 – Toru NAKAJIMA (JPN), Chikkarangappa S. (IND), Natipong SRITHONG (THA), Kodai ICHIHARA (JPN), LIU Yan-wei (CHN), Yuta IKEDA (JPN), Hyungsung KIM (KOR), Satoshi KODAIRA (JPN), Micah Lauren SHIN (USA), Shunya TAKEYASU (JPN), Prom MEESAWAT (THA), Tatsuya KODAI (JPN), Miguel TABUENA (PHI), Richard T. LEE (CAN), Sihwan KIM (USA).
70 – Zaw MOE (MYN), Bowen XIAO (CHN), Arjun ATWAL (IND), Shugo IMAHIRA (JPN), Narutoshi YAMAOKA (JPN), Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND), Ryuji MASAOKA (JPN), Shohei KARIMATA (JPN), Terry PILKADARIS (AUS), Jyoti RANDHAWA (IND), Ryutaro NAGANO (JPN), LU Wei-chih (TPE), Suradit YONGCHAROENCHAI (THA), Ryo ISHIKAWA (JPN), Yikeun CHANG (KOR), Taichi NABETANI (JPN), Ajeetesh SANDHU (IND), Masashi HIDAKA (JPN).
71 – Zaw Zaw LATT (MYN), Ben LEONG (MAS), Younghan SONG (KOR), Masanori KOBAYASHI (JPN), Khalin JOSHI (IND), Rashid KHAN (IND), Katsumasa MIYAMOTO (JPN), Jarin TODD (USA), Jake HIGGINBOTTOM (AUS), Toshinori MUTO (JPN), Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA), Kyungnam KANG (KOR), Chapchai NIRAT (THA), Backjun AN (KOR), Ye Htet AUNG (MYN), Jbe KRUGER (RSA), Konosuke NAKAZATO (JPN), Nicholas FUNG (MAS), Yusaku MIYAZATO (JPN), Johannes VEERMAN (USA), Todd SINNOTT (AUS), Adilson DA SILVA (BRA), LIANG Wen-chong (CHN), Hiroshi IWATA (JPN), Tomoyo IKEMURA (JPN), Arnond VONGVANIJ (THA).