Sep 10th, 2021
Aphibarnrat storms into lead at Wentworth
Birdie blitz gives Thai share of lead at the BMW PGA Championship
Photography: Getty Images
The 32-year-old from Thailand has struggled to find the kind of form which has earned him four European Tour titles, but he reignited the flame on the West Course's famous back nine. Five birdies in succession were complimented by back-to-back birdies at the 16th and 17th, earning him an eight-under 64 and a one-stroke advantage.
“It was incredible, to be honest, my putter worked very well today, a lot of good ball-striking, tee-to-green it was lovely," said Aphibarnrat.
"I think I had a couple missed shots, especially the last hole, I was trying to catch at the ball make sure it get over the rough. But I caught it a little bit too thin. But I holed a long par putt which is fantastic."
He was joined at the top by South Africa's Christiaan Bezuidenhout, the three-time European Tour winner carding an eagle at the par five fourth hole and picking up birdies on the final three holes to sign for his 64.
“I drove the ball lovely today, so I just kept it in play. Gave myself a chance, and the putter was good," said Bezuidenhout.
“Had a nice chip-in on 4 which makes my round solid. But, yeah, three birdies in a row, back-to-back par-5s to finish off, which is tricky also."
Adam Scott is one shot back on seven under par after a 65, which included eight birdies, with the Australian making a happy return to the prestigious event after 15 years away.
Justin Rose, who requires a win this week to seal an automatic qualification place in Pádraig Harrington's European Ryder Cup team, started strongly with a five-under 67 to share fourth place with his English compatriot Laurie Canter and Japan's Masahiro Kawamura.
Shane Lowry is the man who currently occupies the final qualification spot, and he enjoyed a steady opening 70, while Bernd Wiesberger - who has the strongest chance of breaking into the team in the final week of qualification - signed for a one-under par opening 71.
Defending champion, Tyrrell Hatton had an opening round to forget with some wayward golf contributing to an opening round of 74.
The play was suspended overnight due to darkness, with four groups remaining to complete round one.