Padraig Harrington was left to lament a late double bogey as Japan’s Koumei Oda took a one-shot lead after the opening round of the $1 million Thailand Open in Bangkok.
The Dubliner was seven under for his round at Thana City Golf & Sports Club with four holes to play but failed to birdie the par-five 16th and then double bogeyed the 192-yard 17th for a five under 67 that left him three shots off the pace in joint 11th alongside defending champion Chris Wood.
“Five under is a good start but it could have been better,” said Harrington, who remarked that the course was “there for the taking.”
He added: “I’m a bit disappointed, but you can’t win a tournament on Thursday.”
The top ranked player in the field, world No 54 Harrington birdied four holes in a row from the second before adding an eagle three at the 10th and a birdie at the 14th to get to seven under before his late mistake.
European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley posted a two under 70 that also promised to be better. Starting on the 10th, McGinley was three under after four holes but came home in one over with a birdie at the fifth cancelled out by bogeys at the first and eighth.
Oda had 11 birdies in an eight-under-par 64 at the 6,930-yard Greg Norman design course on the eastern outskirts of the capital to lead by a shot from a group of six players on a day when 98 players in the 159-man field broke par.
Co-sanctioned by OneAsia and the Japan Golf Tour, organisers have called it “one of the strongest Asia-Pacific line-ups ever gathered outside Japan with over 40 tournament winners boasting more than 200 titles between them.”
Harrington hasn’t won a tournament in Europe or the US since 2008 but hopes to boost his confidence in Asia, where he won the Iskandar Johor Open for the most recent of the tournament victory in October 2010.
Meanwhile, on the European Tour, an astonishing back nine of 28 gave Thai ace Chinnarat Phadungsil a huge five shot advantage at the top of the leaderboard on the first day of the Avantha Masters.
The 25 year old was in scintillating form at Jaypee Greens Golf & Spa Resort in Greater Noida, near New Delhi, with an 11 under par round of 61.
Gareth Maybin was the best of the Irish with a one under 71 that left him just inside the projected cut mark with Michael Hoey (72) tied 78th and Peter Lawrie (73) joint 109th.
Having reached the turn in 33, Phadungsil birdied his first four holes on the back nine, holed an enormous putt at the 14th, and then nearly pitched in for eagle at the 15th hole before notching his seventh straight birdie at the 16th – just one shy of The European Tour record of eight, held jointly by ten players including Seve Ballesteros.
After a par at the 17th hole, Phadungsil struck a superb approach to within a foot at the last, and promptly tapped in for an 11th birdie – again, just one shy of The European Tour record of 12.
Phadungsil’s round left him five strokes clear – only once has a bigger lead been held after the opening round of a European Tour event, by Michael Campbell at the Compass Group English Open.
He said: “Today my putter was very hot. From eight feet in, I didn’t miss and I only had 22 putts all day. On the front nine I was hitting a lot of hook shots, so my putter really saved me. But on the back nine, I drove the ball better and my irons were also better, so that’s the reason why I scored so well. Plus of course my putting!
“We got a bit lucky, because it was very windy when I was practising this morning. But this afternoon the wind died down, especially on the back nine, which really helped me get close to the pins. So the weather was perfect for low scoring. I kept hitting my targets, on every hole. It felt very easy, but it wasn’t! I’m a little surprised at how well I played.”
Pádraig Harrington added a six under 66 to his opening 67 to trail clubhouse leader Azuma Yano (65) by a stroke on 11 under par. Harrington finished his second round tied with defending champion Chris Wood (66), Kyoung-hoon Lee (66) and Thanyakon Khronghpa (63). Live scoring