Joshi and O’toole share honours at Taifong Open

Khalin Joshi press releaseChang Hwa, Chinese Taipei: Khalin Joshi of India and Casey O’Toole of the United States fired matching six-under-par 66s to share the opening round lead at the Taifong Open on Thursday.

Joshi and O’Toole continued their fine form as they grabbed a one-shot lead over Rory Hie of Indonesia, David Gleeson of Australia and local stalwart Lin Wen-tang at the US$160,000 Asian Development Tour (ADT) event.

Itthipat Buranatanyarat of Thailand, who won his first ADT title in April, was a further shot back in sixth place alongside Jordan Sheratt of Australia at the Taifong Golf Club.

The 22-year-old Joshi rode on a hot putter where he holed 23 putts highlighted by three closing birdies.

The talented Indian is enjoying a good run of form after finishing tied second in Bangladesh on the Asian Tour in May. He also challenged for a first ADT title in Bali last month before settling for tied sixth place.

“My putter has let me down in the last few events but I’ve been training hard and it is starting to pay off. I was very confident on the greens I think I’ll have a good week if the putter and ball striking hold up,” said Joshi.

Playing in his first round of competitive golf in slightly over a month, O’Toole struggled early in the round before hitting four straight birdies from the 15th hole. He added two more birdies on 16 and 18 to share the lead.

The American, ranked ninth on the ADT Order of Merit, is aiming for a breakthrough win this week after securing two third place finishes and four top-10 results so far this year.

“I was a little fidgety but once I settled in, I played really well. During the break, I really put a lot of emphasis on my putting. I try to focus on where I’m hitting the putt and not how. I felt my ball striking has been fairly good and consistent,” said O’Toole.

Without a top-10 result in 2015, Hie kept things simple and stayed composed after recovering from a bogey on his second hole with back-to-back birdies. He added five more birdies and one bogey to stay close to the leaders.

“I was in control of my thoughts and kept things simple. I was starting to get too technical. I’m glad my name is up there on the leaderboard again. I didn’t get mad when I made a bogey so I was very impressed with the way I handled myself,” said Hie, who enjoyed a highly successful amateur career.

Taipei-based Gleeson, who is a three-time Asian Tour winner, took advantage of a two-week holiday in his hometown in Queenstown, Australia to produce his best score since 2012.

“I went to Queensland and did some farm stuff with the kids. I just did different things – feeding the cattle, riding around on a motorbike and had a few games of golf with my dad and brothers.

“Things just weren’t in the right order and I didn’t tick enough boxes to get things done (on his golf game). These things take time. Sometimes you have to do other things apart from golf to find the rhythm again!” said Gleeson.

Since it was inaugurated in 2010, the ADT has grown from five events in the first year to a record 21 tournaments in 2014. The ADT has announced a provisional 2015 schedule of a minimum 24 tournaments with several more to be announced in due course.

The ADT will continue to reward the top-five finishers on the Order of Merit at the end of this season with Asian Tour cards for 2016.

With the Olympic Games looming in 2016 where golf will be reintroduced as a medal sport, players in the region could earn their spots in Rio de Janeiro by earning Official World Golf Ranking points through the Asian Tour and ADT.