|Chinnarat Phadungsil, in Greater Noida, on Thursday
Greater Noida: Abhijit Chadha might have carded a flawless 66 in his debut European Tour event, but it was Chinnarat Phadungsil who stole the thunder on the first day of the Avantha Masters golf tournament, here, on Thursday. The Thai youngster carded a sensational 11-under 61.
Abhijit, who ended the day on tied second, held the lead before Phadungsil hogged the limelight.
Abhijit, the PGTI’s Emerging Player of the Year, revelled in home conditions and picked up birdies on the 4th, 5th, 6th, 9th, 15th and the 16th holes to return a card of six-under 66.
But it was Phadungsil who sparkled with 11 birdies, eight of which came in a stunning back-nine on a day when the tournament’s biggest draw, Ryder Cup star Colin Montgomerie, looked in danger of missing the cut with a four-over 76.
It was a remarkable performance from the 24-year-old Phadungsil, given that he had missed cuts in the two Asian Tour tournaments he played this year.
“My game was very smooth today and this is the best round of golf I have played,” said the youngster, whose previous best came way back in 2007, when he hit a nine-under in China.
In fact, when Phadungsil teed off at Avantha Masters last year, it was quite an anti-climax as he failed to make the cut. “I am starting to feel a bit of pressure… But I will just try to give my best,” said the player, who is coached by his dad.
Abhijit acknowledged that being familiar with the course certainly helped him.
“I play here a lot. We just had a small tournament last month. I played six rounds then and that obviously helped,” said the 21-year-old Chandigarh-lad.
A stroke adrift was the quartet of former champion SSP Chowrasia, the promising Gaganjeet Bhullar, SAIL-SBI Open champion Anirban Lahiri and PGTI regular Ashok Kumar at the tied 15th spot.
Jeev Milkha Singh, on the other hand, was unlucky in the closing stages of play. Steady at five-under till the 17th hole, Jeev conceded a drop shot after failing to recover the ball from the bushes.