Published — Friday 22 February 2013
Last update 21 February 2013 11:46 pm
YANGON: Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat bolstered his hopes of erasing last year’s play-off defeat at the Zaykabar Myanmar Open yesterday when he tied for the opening-round lead with compatriot Chapchai Nirat.
The pair, who finished on eight-under-par 64, are one shot ahead of fellow countryman Prom Meesawat, who is seeking a long-awaited second Asian Tour victory, and Joonas Granberg of Finland.
Another Thai, Thanyakon Khrongpha, shared fifth place with Australia’s Darren Beck and South Koreans Hwang In-choon and Young Nam at the $300,000 event, the curtain-raiser for the 10th Asian Tour season.
Reigning Asian Tour number one Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand, who hit the first drive to mark the occasion, was on 71 along with title-holder Kieran Pratt of Australia.
Kiradech was six-under through eight holes but his confidence took a jolt when he missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the 10th hole. He gradually recovered and took advantage of the par fives, where he birdied 14 and 18.
“I missed a big putt on the 10th hole,” said Kiradech, in comments supplied by the organizers.
“I had a 10 feet uphill straight putt but I pulled it. After that I lost some confidence with the putter. I was lucky to get two birdies in the next par fives.” Chapchai was even-par after five holes but recovered with eight birdies in his last 13 holes to share the lead.
In Marana, Arizona, with the sun shining but Dove Mountain’s Ritz-Carlton Golf Club still blanketed in snow, the scheduled restart to the delayed first-round matches at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship was pushed back three hours yesterday.
Two more inches of snow fell at the venue overnight, lifting the total to four inches in under 24 hours, and any prospect of a quick melt was made impossible by plunging temperatures and early morning frost.
Weather-permitting, officials said the first-round matches at the elite World Golf Championships (WGC) event would resume at 11.30am MT (1830 GMT).
Though morning frost has been forecast for the rest of the week at Dove Mountain, conditions are expected to warm up on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“We’ll stay in the 50s (F) the next couple of days, back to the low 60s on Saturday, and then probably upper 50s again on Sunday as another little weak front goes by,” the PGA Tour’s on-site meteorologist Stewart Williams told reporters.
“But it doesn’t look like it has any moisture with it, so it’s just going to drop our temperature a few degrees. Unfortunately we’ll have below normal temperatures for the rest of the week, but at least we’ll have some sun.” Just over three-and-a-half hours of golf was possible on Wednesday because of driving rain, sleet and then snow after 23 of the 32 matches had started with none finishing.
Players and caddies were left stunned by the sudden change in conditions and many of them ended up throwing snowballs at one another while waiting for officials to abandon play for the day.
“One minute we’re playing golf, albeit it’s a little cool, and then within a space of 25 minutes, it turns from playable to cold drizzle to sleet and to snow,” Ian Poulter, the 2010 champion, said. “It’s just bizarre.” Australian Jason Day was in full command against American Zach Johnson, four birdies in the first eight holes helping him go 6up after 10 while Poulter was 3up on fellow Briton Stephen Gallacher after 12.
American Bo Van Pelt was 5up on Australian John Senden after 12 holes, defending champion Hunter Mahan was 4up on Italy’s Matteo Manassero after nine and American Matt Kuchar was 3up on Japan’s Hiroyuki Fujita after 14.