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Golf: Thai star Pariya chases ‘Cowboy Shingo’ at Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open

Pariya Junhasavasdikul opened with a 65 at Ibaraki Country Club in Osaka as he chases his third Asian Tour title.

Pariya Junhasavasdikul opened with a 65 at Ibaraki Country Club in Osaka as he chases his third Asian Tour title.

September 26, 2013: Japanese star Shingo Katayama fired a flawless eight-under-par 63 to take a two-shot lead over Thailand’s Pariya Junhasavasdikul in the opening round of the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open in Japan on Thursday.

 

The flamboyant Japanese, known as ‘Cowboy Shingo’ because of his distinctive cowboy hat, shot out of the blocks with birdies on the first three holes before picking up another five shots over the par-71, 7,328-yard layout at Ibaraki Country Club in Osaka.

 

Pariya, who won his second Asian Tour title in Malaysia in June, was also impressive as he carded three birdies and an eagle in his first six holes before adding two more birdies against one bogey for a 65.

 

Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura, Song Young-han of Korea and Rory Hie of Indonesia each shot 69 to share third at the Y150 million (US$1.48 million) event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour.

 

Katayama, who has won 26 Japan Golf Tour titles and the money list five times, has finished fourth and second in his last two events on home soil and continued his dominant form as he seeks a first win since 2008.

 

“I haven’t won in a while, but if I do win then it will be like a new me. I won’t say that I’m returning to my best form. It’s just a new Shingo Katayama. Now I’m focused on what’s in front of me and hopefully that feeling will last,” said Katayama, who chipped in from 30 yards to birdie 11.

 

“When I played in the practice round, I was expecting a tough week because this is a tough course and the wind was blowing so strongly, so I’m quite lucky to shoot such a low score.”

 

Pariya’s decision to enjoy life and spend more time on quality practice is beginning to pay dividends as he continues to soar on the Asian Tour.

 

“I didn’t expect to shoot six-under because the wind was blowing quite strongly, even at six in the morning. But when you make birdie, eagle, birdie in the first three holes, it makes things much easier,” said Pariya, a licenced pilot.

 

“If you asked me what I did to improve, I’ll say I enjoy my life a little bit more. I don’t take golf too seriously any more. I practise less, but put in quality practice instead of quantity.”

 

Hie sank a clutch eight-foot par putt on the last hole to ensure he shared third spot. The young Indonesian qualified for the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open when he won the Road to Panasonic Open Series in Indonesia.

 

“I was really impressed with the way I played. It was fun to play with the two Japanese stars, Hideto Tanihara and Hiroyuki Fujita. The course was playing pretty tough. The wind was gusty, but thankfully I had a good caddie with me and we managed to play through it,” Hie said.

 

“I visited my coach (George Pinnell) in the summer and he helped improve my putting. It wasn’t technique, but more a mental aspect of how to visualise the ball rolling into the hole.”

 

The tournament is hosted by the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation, Panasonic Corporation and Japan Golf Association.

 

Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open, Ibaraki Country Club, Osaka, Japan

Round 1 scores:

63 – Shingo KATAYAMA (JPN)

65 – Pariya JUNHASAVASDIKUL (THA)

69 – Masahiro KAWAMURA (JPN), Rory HIE (INA), SONG Young-han (KOR).

70 – KIM Sung-yoon (KOR), Prayad MARKSAENG (THA), Koumei ODA (JPN), Yoshinori FUJIMOTO (JPN), Michio MATSUMURA (JPN), Koki FURUTA (am, JPN), LEE Kyoung-hoon (KOR), Taichi TESHIMA (JPN)

71 – Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA), S.K. HO (KOR), PARK Sung-Joon (KOR), Shunsuke SONODA (JPN), Kazuhiko HOSOKAWA (JPN), Tetsuji HIRATSUKA (JPN), Chawalit PLAPHOL (THA), Hidemasa HOSHINO (JPN), Y.E. YANG (KOR), SIDDIKUR  (BAN), Han LEE (USA)

72 – Keiichiro FUKABORI (JPN), Gunn CHAROENKUL (THA), Brad KENNEDY (AUS), Ben FOX (USA), Sushi ISHIGAKI (JPN), Wade ORMSBY (AUS), Yoshinobu TSUKADA (JPN), Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA), Prom MEESAWAT (THA), LIU Yanwei (am, CHN), Masamichi UEHIRA (JPN), Yoshikazu HAKU (JPN), LU Wei-chih (TPE), LEE Sung (KOR), Makoto INOUE (JPN)

 

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