Drawing from lessons picked up from different quarters, Chapchai Nirat placed himself in an enviable position by putting them to optimum use at his place of work. Being the son of a top Thai golfer, showing pluck on the course was a quality that was only natural for the father to pass on to his descendant. Displaying a heart that went perfectly with the nickname ‘King Kong’ (acquired for his prodigious driving distances), the 25-year-old raised the bar at the Classic Golf Resort by setting a course record of 10-under 62.
Also aiding the chubby player as he opened up a three-stroke lead on the opening day of the SAIL Open was the ability to stay calm. Bound by custom, Nirat, as a respectful son, joined a monastery in 2007 for two weeks and picked up the benefits of meditation.
It was “steady brilliance” all through as the Thai spaced his birdies well --- five apiece on the back and front nine. Wednesday’s card was next to a career-best 61 at the TCL Classic in China, which he won in 2007. Not only did he become the third Thai to win an event co-sanctioned by the Asian and European Tours, Nirat, who turned pro at the age of 15, went on to corner glory in Vietnam the same year.
With the course suiting his style, Nirat gave ample proof of the big-hitting abilities by sinking birdies on the par-4s. Terming the highs on the 11th and 17th as his “best”, the mantra on the morrow would be to “stay relaxed and hit the par-5 greens in two strokes”.
The Thai contingent opened strongly with Wisut Artjanawat placed tied second and Thammanoon Srirot joint sixth. However, it was a quiet start for Thaworn Wiratchant as he tied 44th with three-under.
On the home front, Jyoti Randhawa came up with a sedate one-under to be joint 76th. There is no cause for immediate worry, as the Indian is known to grow in strength. Leading the pack were S.P. Chowrasia and Shamim Khan with six-under.
Tied sixth, Shamim termed the conditions as “easy”, but felt “good putting” would be key in the coming days. The joy of seeing his game hold was unmistakable on Chowrasia’s face. “My hitting and putting were good but the latter still needs to be worked on. I’ll need to keep repeating what I did today,” he said.