Koh Samui: Thai veteran star Prayad Marksaeng brilliantly launched his quest for an unprecedented third Queen’s Cup title with a solid six-under-par 65 matched by rookie Chanat Sakulpolphaisan, Filipino Angelo Que and India’s Rashid Khan in the first round of the Queen’s Cup on Thursday.
The ageless Prayad, who won his 10th Asian Tour win eight days before his 51st birthday at the SMBC Singapore Open in January, soared with an eagle on the 12th hole along with five other birdies at the par-71 Santiburi Samui Country Club.
Countryman Chanat was equally impressive, with the 26-year-old shooting eight birdies against two bogeys while the effervescent Que nailed six birdies over his last seven holes to give himself a chance for a fourth career victory. The 38-year-old Que did not play a practice round after arriving on the holiday isle on Wednesday night.
Like Chanat, the slender Khan also posted eight birdies, including four in a row on his homeward nine, as he chases a third Asian Tour title in the US$500,000 tournament backed by Bangkok Airways and Sports Authority of Thailand.
Japan’s Daisuke Kataoka, Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung and Chinese Taipei’s Hung Chien-yao shared fifth place on 66 while India’s S.S.P. Chawrasia, who is second on the Order of Merit, is amongst those bunched on 67.
Title holder Scott Hend of Australia fought to a 71 in what is the 10th leg of the 2017 Asian Tour season.
Did you know?
• Prayad won the Queen’s Cup in 2013 and 2015. In four other appearances, he has finished in the top-10. In addition, he has finished top-five at Santiburi Samui in the Bangkok Airways Open from 2005 to 2008.
• Prayad’s victory in Singapore earned him his sixth British Open appearance in July and made him the second oldest winner on Tour. He was also victorious in his last two Japan Seniors Tour tournaments.
• Prayad shot one eagle, five birdies and one bogey. He took 27 putts, including eight one-putts. His eagle came courtesy of a wedge from 131 yards on the 12th hole.
• Chanat, who learned golf at the age of nine, earned his Asian Tour card by finishing right on the number in Qualifying School in January. He holed a 15-foot par putt the final hole to earn his Tour card.
• Chanat has won once on the Asian Development Tour at the 2015 PGM Nilai Springs Championship in Malaysia. He missed the cut in his first Queen’s Cup appearance in 2015 with scores of 82 and 77.
• Chanat was ranked number one in 2012 in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) during his junior college days in America following five wins. He then graduated from the Mississippi State University with a business degree and also won once on the National College Athletic Association (NCAA).
• After finishing tied 38th in the Bangladesh Open, Chanat missed the cut in the Yeangder Heritage in Chinese Taipei and Thailand Open. Chanat missed only three greens in regulation and took 26 putts, including 10 one-putts.
• Que, who is nicknamed Human Highlighter due to his liking for bright clothing, last won on the Asian Tour in the 2010 Selangor Masters in Malaysia.
• Que has played in only two Queen’s Cup previously, missing the cut in 2013 and finishing tied 44th in 2012.
• He finished tied fifth at the Japan Golf Tour Championship two weeks ago and also enjoyed a top-10 in Japan earlier this season where he also plies his trade.