Leopalace21 Myanmar Open: Antonio putts his way to top; Chawrasia tied at third

SSP CHOWRASIA Leopalace21 Myanmar OpenYangon: Philippines’ Antonio Lascuna benefited from his solid putting as it rewarded him with a commanding eight-under-par 64 and the outright lead after the first round of the Leopalace21 Myanmar Open on Thursday.

The 45-year-old veteran needed just 29 putts to underline his supremacy over the rest of the strong field gathered at the US$750,000 event which is also the richest sporting event in Myanmar.

Malaysia’s Danny Chia briefly took the morning lead when he carded a 65 before being overtaken by Lascuna to slip to second place at the Royal Mingalardon Golf and Country Club.

India’s S.S.P. Chawrasia posted a 66 to take a share of third place with Japan’s Azuma Yano, Canada’s Richard T. Lee, South Africa’s Shaun Norris, Korea’s Jeunghun Wang and Australia’s Sam Brazel.

Lascuna was a figure of consistency especially on the greens where his sublime touch with the putter led him to the top after day one of the Leopalace21 Myanmar Open which is sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO).

He ran out in 34 but was a man on fire in his homeward-nine where he quickly went to eight-under with four birdies and an eagle in five holes after the turn.

“My putting was so good today. Almost every putt I made went in, especially in my back-nine.

“If I can continue this way, it’ll be a good week,” said the 45-year-old.

Chia continued his resurgence on the region’s premier Tour when he went out quickly with four birdies to turn in 32.

The Malaysian, who ended his 13 year winless streak on the Asian Tour with his win in Taipei last October, then cruised home with another three birdies for an inward 33.

“My iron shots were probably the key for me today. I didn’t hit that many fairways but I recovered well with my wedge shots and my irons.

“I’ve been working on my wedge shots with my coach last week. We talked about several things including how to control my emotions on the golf course. It was good today,” said Chia, a two-time Asian Tour winner.

Yano’s calculated approach on the fairways paid off as the Japanese also started promisingly.

“I made sure all my tee shots would stay in the fairways and that was key for me today. I gave myself enough distance so that I could approach the greens comfortably.

“I got unlucky on a few occasions but I managed to recover well after that,” said the Japanese whose last victory on the JGTO came in 2008.

Chawrasia meanwhile credited his course familiarity for putting him in a favourable position as he looks ahead to the next round.

“The golf course is somewhat like a few courses I used to play on back in India. It was hot alright but not unbearable because it was not humid,” said Chawrasia.

The Indian, who is seeking his fourth win on the Asian Tour this week, was consistent with his iron play and took advantage of his birdie chances when they came.

“It was a nice clean round with six birdies and no bogeys. The game was in a good place and I found all the fairways except two and even then there were close by.

“And I gave myself decent chances and converted quite a few of them,” said Chawrasia.

Leading Scores after round 1 of the Leopalace21 Myanmar Open 2016 being played at the par 72, 7218 Yards Royal Mingalardon GcC course (am - denotes amateur):

64 - Antonio LASCUNA (PHI).
65 - Danny CHIA (MAS).
66 - Azuma YANO (JPN), Shaun NORRIS (RSA), S.S.P. CHAWRASIA (IND), Richard T. LEE (CAN), Jeunghun WANG (KOR), Sam BRAZEL (AUS).
67 - Prayad MARKSAENG (THA), Rashid KHAN (IND), Younghan SONG (KOR), Miguel TABUENA (PHI).
68 - Dodge KEMMER (USA), Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA), Narutoshi YAMAOKA (JPN), Angelo QUE (PHI), Yusaku MIYAZATO (JPN), Yoshinori FUJIMOTO (JPN), Himmat RAI (IND), Nicholas FUNG (MAS), Naomi OHTA (JPN), Chapchai NIRAT (THA), Shiv KAPUR (IND), Yosuke ASAJI (JPN), Arjun ATWAL (IND), Ryuichi ODA (JPN), Seunghyuk KIM (KOR).
69 - Hyunwoo RYU (KOR), Jbe KRUGER (RSA), LU Wei-chih (TPE), Carlos PIGEM (ESP), Kalem RICHARDSON (AUS), Niall TURNER (IRL), Siddikur RAHMAN (BAN), Unho PARK (AUS), Winn AUNG (MYN), Thein Zaw MYINT (MYN), Seungsu HAN (USA), Daisuke KATAOKA (JPN), Sanghyun PARK (KOR), Kodai ICHIHARA (JPN), Yuta IKEDA (JPN), K.T. KIM (KOR), Sanghee LEE (KOR), Yosuke TSUKADA (JPN), Jordan SHERRATT (AUS), Daisuke MARUYAMA (JPN), Yikeun CHANG (KOR), Naing Naing LIN (MYN).