Seeking a first victory since winning the Masters in 2011, Charl Schwartzel shot a seven-under 65 yesterday to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Thailand Golf Championship.
The South African made seven birdies in a bogey-free round at Amata Spring Country Club, four coming in the opening seven holes, to hold a narrow advantage over Thitiphun Chuayprakong (66).
“I’m very happy with the way my game has started getting back,” Schwartzel said.
“In the last month and a half, I’ve been able to start working on my swing again and getting my swing back to what it was a year or so ago. My consistency is coming back, and that to me is key.”
Current Masters champion Bubba Watson (68) had an eagle and six birdies to lie three shots off the lead, while defending champion Lee Westwood (70) was in 21st place.
“It was a solid round, but I made a few mistakes,” said Watson, this year’s Augusta winner.
“I hit a cart path and bounced into the woods and had to take an unplayable, and had a three putt on the 17.”
Swede Daniel Chopra shot a 67 to share third place with Spaniard Javi Colomo.
Schwartzel opened his round with two straight birdies, picked up two more shots at the sixth and seventh and then holed birdie putts on three of the last six holes on the par-72, 7,453-yard course.
“I found many fairways and, to me, that’s the key on this golf course because the rough is so high,” Schwartzel said.
“It’s nice to put yourself in position. You’re not going to win the golf tournament after round one, but you sure can lose it.”