Chikka opens with 65 in Thailand; lies second

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Bangkok: Indian golfer S Chikkarangappa blasted a superb five-under 65 on the Par-70 Thai Country Club in the opening round to make a brilliant start to his campaign at the Thailand Open here today.

Chikka, who has time and again come close to securing his maiden win on the Asian Tour, was one shot behind Thai Natipong (64), while two other Thais, Jazz Janewattanond and Sarit Suwannarut were at 65 alongside the Indian.

Chikka also needs to do well to move upwards in his position on the Asian Tour’s Habitat for Humanity standings.

Among the other Indians, Rashid Khan (67) was T-14 and he had four birdies, three of them on the back nine of the course and just one bogey.

Chiragh Kumar, Gaganjeet Bhullar and Himmat Rai are T-43rd at one-under 69, while Rahil Gangjee and Viraj Madappa were T-85th with cards of 1-over 71 each and Khalin Joshi carded 72 to be T-106th.

Chikka, a two-time winner on the Asian Development Tour, opened with a par on 10th but soon went on a birdie spree with three in row from 11th to 13th and added two more on 16th and 18th as he turned in 5-under 31.

A birdie on third brought him to 6-under, but he dropped his only bogey of the day on ninth, his closing hole.

Needing just 23 putts, Chikka’s excellent short game on view even though he managed only 61 per cent greens in regulation and hit only 50 per cent fairways.

Natipong had over 85 % drives in the fairway and got more than 88 % onto the greens in regulation, but needed 28 putts.

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