Schwartzel takes lead in Thailand

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 06, 2012

DOHA, QATAR - JANUARY 28: Charl Schwartzel of South Africa on the 18th tee during the first round of The Commercialbank Qatar Masters at The Doha Golf Club on January 28, 2010 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Seeking a first victory since winning the Masters in 2011, 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 Amata Spring Country Club, four coming in the opening seven holes, to hold a narrow advantage over Thitiphun Chuayprakong (66). ''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 lie 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, and had a three putt on the 17.'' Daniel Chopra shot a 67 to share third place 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 par-72 , 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) shares 10th place with Thaworn Wiratchant, the current No. 1 on the Asian Tour's Order of Merit.
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