Schwartzel leads in Thailand after 65 in 1st round

Seeking his first victory since winning the 2011 Masters, Charl

Schwartzel shot a 7-under 65 Thursday to take a one-stroke lead

after the first round of the Thailand Golf Championship.

The South African made seven birdies in a bogey-free round at

the Amata Spring Country Club, four coming in the opening seven

holes, to hold a one-shot advantage over Thitiphun


”I’m very happy with the way my game has started getting

back,” Schwartzel said. ”Last month and a half, I’ve been able to

start working on my swing again and getting my swing back to what

it was a year or so ago.

”My consistency is coming back, and that to me is key.”

Third-ranked Bubba Watson (68) had an eagle and six birdies to

sit three shots off the lead, while defending champion Lee Westwood

(70) was in 21st place.

”It was a solid round but I made a few mistakes,” said Watson,

this year’s Masters winner. ”Hit a cart patch and bounced into the

woods and had to take an unplayable (lie), and had a three-putt on

the 17.”

Daniel Chopra shot a 67 to share third with Javi Colomo.

Schwartzel opened his round with two straight birdies, picked up

two more shots at Nos. 6 and 7 and then holed birdie putts on three

of the last six holes on the 7,453-yard course.

”I found many fairways and, to me, that’s the key on this golf

course because the rough is so high,” Schwartzel said. ”It’s nice

to put yourself in position.

”You’re not going to win the golf tournament after Round 1, but

you sure can lose it.”

The 20-year-old Thitiphun, who only last week secured his Asian

Tour card at a tournament in Khon Kaen, played without pressure to

move into second place.

”My drives were traveling well. The condition was perfect as

the green was soft and the fairways were great,” he said.

Sergio Garcia (69) shared 10th place with Thaworn Wiratchant,

the current No. 1 on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit.