Philippine Open: India's Gaganjeet Bhullar tied second while Renolds takes first round lead

gaganjeetTarlac, Philippines: Lindsay Renolds of Canada produced a flawless six-under-par 66 to snatch the first round lead at the weather-shortened Philippine Open presented by ICTSI on Friday.

The Phuket-based Canadian fired six birdies at the US$300,000 Asian Tour event to revive his hopes of securing an Asian Tour card for the new 2016 season.

He is trailed closely by home favourite Miguel Tabuena, Chinnarat Phadungsil of Thailand, Gaganjeet Bhullar of India and Korean rising star Jeunghun Wang, who posted matching 67s at the Luisita Golf and Country Club.

Former Philippine Open champion Mardan Mamat of Singapore, 2011 Order of Merit winner Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines, Johnrey Pactolerin, Giwhan Kim of Korea and Tirawat Kaewsiribandit of Thailand were a further shot back in tied sixth place.

Officials had earlier postponed the opening round and reduce the Philippine Open to 54 holes due to inclement weather.

Renolds, ranked 95th on the Order of Merit, is on a do-or-die mission to save his Asian Tour card for next year. The Canadian needs nothing less than a victory this week to break into the top-63 on the Order of Merit to retain his Tour card for 2016.

“It is a case of winning or going back to Qualifying School for me this week. I got nothing to lose. I’m trying to stay motivated and focussed,” said the 29-year-old Renolds.

“It was a good day. I hit my driver and irons well. Everything was good and I played the best I could. I don’t have one single highlight, my proximity to the hole was good all day,” he added.

The 20-year-old Wang opened his account with six birdies against one bogey as he seeks a first Asian Tour win to repay the faith of Jeev Milkha Singh who selected the Korean as a Captain’s pick to represent Team Asia at the EurAsia Cup next year.

“The course is wet so it is playing long. I holed some long birdies putts which was nice. I only played nine holes (back nine) during the practice round. I was so afraid when I played on the front nine especially on the last hole where I missed a short birdie putt,” said Wang.

Tabuena, who won at the Luisita course on the local circuit with a 22-under score earlier this year, took full advantage of the postponement of round one as he recovered from a cold and high fever to stay in the hunt for a first Asian Tour title.

“I can’t complain with my score considering my condition. I’m feeling much better which is good. I was very lucky play was called off yesterday because I got an extra rest day. I made the most out of it,” said the 21-year-old Tabuena.

Bhullar, a five-time Asian Tour winner, carded six birdies against one bogey without playing a practice round and hitting a single golf shot in the last two days.

“I didn’t play a practice round. I just walked a few holes and that’s about it. I didn’t do anything on Wednesday and Thursday and was really eager to get out there and hit some good shots which I did,” Bhullar smiled.

New father Chinnarat, who welcomed a new born son last month, stayed patient in a pressure-packed week where he must maintain or better his 62nd position on the Order of Merit.

“I need to make some money to keep my Asian Tour card,” he said. “I have big pressure because I know I need to have a good result this week. I must stay patient and I hope I can continue to play good.”

Scores after round 1 of the Philippine Open being played at the par 72, 7042 Yards Luisita Course course (am - denotes amateur):

66 - Lindsay RENOLDS (CAN).
67 - Chinnarat PHADUNGSIL (THA), Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND), Jeunghun WANG (KOR), Miguel TABUENA (PHI).
68 - Giwhan KIM (KOR), Juvic PAGUNSAN (PHI), Johnrey PACTOLERIN (PHI), Tirawat KAEWSIRIBANDIT (THA), Mardan MAMAT (SIN).
69 - Shubhankar SHARMA (IND), Niall TURNER (IRL), Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA), Seukhyun BAEK (KOR), Kalle SAMOOJA (FIN), Keith HORNE (RSA), Scott BARR (AUS).
70 - KOH Deng Shan (SIN), Khalin JOSHI (IND), Jhonnel ABABA (PHI), Mithun PERERA (SRI), Adam GROOM (AUS), LU Wei-chih (TPE), Clyde MONDILLA (PHI), Brett MUNSON (USA), Taewoo KIM (KOR), GOH Kun Yang (SIN), Poosit SUPUPRAMAI (THA), Simon GRIFFITHS (ENG), Pavit TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA), Matthew GILES (AUS), HUNG Chien-yao (TPE), Poom SAKSANSIN (THA), Nilo SALAHOG (PHI), Charlie WI (KOR), George GANDRANATA (INA), Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA).