Singapore: Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat maintained Zen-like calm to soar to the top of the Singapore Open leaderboard upon his return to the Serapong Course on Friday to complete his weather-delayed first round.
Chapchai was one of 78 players, including world No 1 Rory McIlroy, stranded on the course on a storm-threatened Thursday but he returned early on Friday to complete a bogey-free six-under 65 for a one-shot lead. Thunderstorms again ended play early on Friday after just six hours of play were possible and with half the field yet to start their second rounds.
Resuming on three-under after five holes, the stocky 29-year-old added three birdies, including one at the par-five 18th, to move a stroke clear of overnight leader Thomas Bjorn of Denmark before rushing off to start his second round.
Briton Simon Khan, Spaniard Pablo Martin and Thailand’s Chinnarat Phadungsil, who all completed their opening rounds on Thursday before the weather halted play, sit a further shot back in a tie for third place.
McIlroy was even par when he resumed on the ninth hole and the Northern Irishman was steady for the remainder of his round, birdieing the par-four 11th and parring the other holes to register a one-under 70 and join a big group tied for 21st.
Chapchai often struggled to contain his temper when things were going wrong on the course but the practicing Buddhist explained that regular meditation had helped soothe his nerves.
“Yes, I’ve been going [to the monastery] a lot to calm myself out,” Chapchai said.
“I used to be very hot-tempered and I got frustrated easily, especially at such a young age.
“My parents sent me to the monastery and I became a monk for a while. My temper is better now but I still try to go back to the monastery once in a while.”
Looking to end a victory drought dating back to March 2009, Chapchai believes ironing out problems with his putter will be key to his performance in the $6 million (Dh22.04 million) co-sanctioned event.
“I’ve been having problems with my putting for the whole of this year,” he said. “I try to make sure that I’ve got enough practice before coming to play here. It seems to be working out today. I was hoping to solve the problem this week.
McIlroy admitted the break in play had not affected his concentration but he was a little disappointed with his display on the greens.
“With the weather we have here at this time of the year, you have to expect some disruptions,” he said.
“Hopefully we got the good side of the draw and can get 18 holes in this afternoon and have a bit of a rest between the second and third rounds.
“I actually played pretty well from tee to green, just didn’t really hole any putts, which was a bit frustrating. So that was the story of the round really.”