European Tour

Cejka sizzles on day one

 Alex Cejka (AFP)
Alex Cejka (AFP)

Bangkok - Germany's Alex Cejka burst through the pack with a sizzling eight-under par 64 to take the lead in the opening round of the $1 million Thailand Golf Championship at Amata Spring Country Club on Thursday.

Overtaking a crowded leaderboard, the 43 year-old German was one shot ahead of England's Justin Rose and the promising young Thai, Arnond Vongvanij, who both fired impressive 65s.

A further shot behind was India's Gaganjeet Bhullar, while compatriot Sujjan Singh and Sweden's Daniel Chopra both hit 67.

Defending champion Charl Schwartzel was in joint seventh place along with Spain's Sergio Garcia and Mardan Mamat of Singapore after firing four-under 68s.

"I am very pleased, I played really well today," said Cejka, who was also celebrating his first wedding anniversary.

"It is a great feeling," added the German, who sunk eight birdies and didn't drop any shots in a flawless display.

But he offered a word of caution.

"There are still three rounds to go and there are a lot of great players in the field. Anything can happen."

Cejka first played in Thailand in the late 1990s and said his experience of the country helped his performance.

He also married his American wife Alyssa on the island of Phuket, and enjoys the place so much he is taking her on a three-week vacation there after the tournament.

For much of the day Rose topped the leaderboard and this year's US Open champion seems determined to finish his already spectacular year on a high note.

Looking very relaxed, the English star opened with two birdies which set the tone for his round, as he went on to sink a total of seven birdies while suffering no bogeys.

"I got off to a good start on what was just a perfect morning for golf," Rose said.

"My putting felt really sharp, I was reading the greens well." Rose said it was important to avoid the rough. "The key is to hit the fairway and follow it up with good irons."

Arnond admitted his familiarity with the course was a factor in his excellent round which included nine birdies and two bogeys. "I am familiar with the greens. The local knowledge certainly helped, as well as the great crowd support," he said.

The Thai enjoyed playing with Rickie Fowler who he knows from his junior days in the US.

"We had a good chat," he said. "It was like the old junior days."

Defending champion Schwartzel was reasonably happy with his 68, but felt it could have been a lot better.

"My putting let me down today, which led to two bogeys," he said. "Otherwise I played pretty solid." Pre-tournament favourite Henrik Stenson of Sweden had a fairly ordinary day, shooting a two-under 70, the same score as America's Bubba Watson and Fowler.

Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat hit a three-under 69 as did compatriot Thammanoon Sriroj, but veteran Thongchai Jaidee had to settle for a one-under 71.

Scores after the first round of the $1 million Thailand Golf Championship on Thursday at the Amata Spring Country Club. (par 72)

64 - Alex Cejka (GER)

65 - Justin Rose (ENG), Arnond Vongvanij (THA)

66 - Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND)

67 - Daniel Chopra (SWE), Sujjan Singh (IND)

68 - Charl Schwartzel (SA), Sergio Garcia (SPA), Mardan Mamat (SIN) Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA), Angelo Que (PHI), Masahiro Kawamura (JAP)

69 - Marcus Fraser (AUS), Thammanon Sriroj (THA)

70 - Elias Bertheussen (NOR), Antonio Lascuna (PHI), Rickie Fowler (USA), Henrik Stenson (SWE), Bubba Watson (USA), Alexander Levy (FRA), Namchok Tantipokhakul (THA)

71 - Thongchai Jaidee (THA), Hunter Mahan (US), Pawin Ingkhapradit (THA), Mars Pucay (PHI), Panuphol Pittayarat (THA), Wade Ormsby (AUS), Marcus Both (AUS), C. Munniyappa (IND), Prom Meesawat (THA), Jaakko Makitalo (FIN), Lionel Weber (FRA), Steve Lewton (ENG), Anirbahn Lahiri (IND), Jason Knutson (USA), Chawalit Plaphol (THA), Mithun Perera (SRI), Hung Chien-yao (TPE)

Selected scores

73 - John Daly (USA)

74 - Ryo Ishikawa (JAP)

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