Chinnarat leads Avantha Masters by 5 shots


GREATER NOIDA, India (AP) -Chinnarat Phadungsil of Thailand holed eight birdies on the back nine Thursday to shoot an 11-under 61 for a five-stroke lead in the first round of the Avantha Masters.

He missed a 30-foot putt on the 17th that would have made it nine consecutive birdies for the 2005 world junior champion. Chinnarat is the youngest winner on the Asian Tour after capturing the Double A International tournament in 2005 at 17 years, 5 days.

He was followed by a group of five at 6 under, including compatriots Chapchai Nirat and Chawalit Plaphol.

Colin Montgomerie (76) is tied for 148th, while local favorite Jeev Milkha Singh (69) has a share of 30th place.

"I played very smooth on the back nine and did not worry about my scores," said Chinnarat, a three-time winner on the Asian Tour. "The birdie putt on the 17th was a difficult one, but I'm very happy with my score because my previous best at any level has been 9 under."

"I'd changed my swing but that was not working for me over the last two years. I went back to my old swing and I feel that is working fine for me."

A surprise performer was the unheralded Abhijit Singh Chadha in joint second place. The 21-year-old Indian had four birdies on the outward nine and two on the back.

"The putter was hot today and I holed almost everything," Chadha said. "I made a 40-footer for birdie on the 16th and converted two 25-feet birdie putts on the sixth and ninth."

Thai player Thongchoi Jaidee, who is looking to crack the top 50 with a victory that would give him a third entry to the Masters next month, was tied for 45th after hitting a 70.

Defending champion Joe Kruger of South Africa hit a 72.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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