Phadungsil leads Avantha Masters in India by five after opening with 61

Chinnarat Phadungsil at the Avantha Masters
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Chinnarat Phadungsil leads the Avantha Masters after an eight-birdie back nine.
By
PA Sport

Series: European Tour

Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013 | 12:01 p.m.

GREATER NOIDA, India -- Chinnarat Phadungsil of Thailand carded an 11-under-par 61 Thursday to claim a five-shot lead after the first round of the Avantha Masters. The event is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and Asian Tour.

Phadungsil went to the turn at Jaypee Greens Golf & Spa Resort in 33, but covered the back nine in just 28 shots with eight birdies – seven of them in succession – and one par.

The 24-year-old, who became the youngest-ever winner on the Asian Tour by lifting the Double A International Open as a 17-year-old amateur in 2005, needed just 22 putts to tame the 7,347-yard course, the longest in India.

"It's my best round (ever)," Phadungsil said. "Today was very hot putting. I holed a lot of great putts. On the back nine I drove the ball better, on the front nine I hit a lot of hook shots but holed my putts to save my score.

"I was a bit lucky; this morning was very windy but this afternoon on the back nine it slowed down and my game was also very good. I will try my best to keep it going."

On a day of low scoring, fellow Thai players Chawalit Plaphol and Chapchai Nirat, India's Abhijit Singh Chadha, Swede Magnus Carlsson and China's Wen-chong Liang shared second place on 6 under, while Scotland's Peter Whiteford and former Ryder Cup player David Howell were among a large group on 4 under.

Whiteford was challenging for victory in this event 12 months ago at DLF Golf & Country Club when he was disqualified during the final round after TV viewers spotted his ball move on the fairway in the third round. Replays of Whiteford's third shot to the 18th showed that his ball rolled a fraction before he played to the green, meaning he should have replaced it and taken a one-shot penalty.

Officials reviewed the matter as Whiteford began his final round, and he was given the bad news just after dropping a shot on the third hole to lie one off the lead.

"It's easy to forget about it (last year) until guys like you bring it up all the time," Whiteford said after a flawless 68. "It took me a while to get over it if, I am being honest. It annoyed me for a good few months, but that's all forgotten about now and hopefully I can press on."

As for his round, the 32-year-old added: "I did not play that great off the tee, but if I can keep putting like that you don't have to hit it that close.

"I had a lot of chances and, apart from the 10th where I missed an easy one, every putt had a look (in the hole) on the way by."

Alvaro Quiros also reached 4 under on his return to action after a four-month layoff due to a wrist injury, before two late bogeys meant the big-hitting Spaniard had to settle for an opening 70.

Defending champion Jbe Kruger carded a level-par 72, but Colin Montgomerie struggled to a 76 and was tied for 148th out of the 155 players in the field.