Thongchai, Fujita lead strong Asian challenge
Thongchai Jaidee and Hiroyuki Fujita posted sub-par scores at the US PGA Championship in Chaska, Minnesota, on Thursday as the Asian contingent made a strong start to the year's final major.
Thai Thongchai reeled off three birdies in a row from the 10th hole on the way to a two-under 70 at Hazeltine National.
Japanese Fujita, who started at the 10th and rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt at the 18th, bogeyed the ninth to finish on 71.
"I played very well today," Thongchai said. "After two bogeys on the front nine with no birdies I made a very good comeback with birdies on 10, 11 and 12."
Thongchai, who missed the cut in his three previous appearances at the PGA, converted a ten-footer, a five-footer and a tap-in birdie during his blistering three-hole stretch.
Earlier, the 39-year-old had bogeyed the 8th and 9th.
At the par-three 8th his tee shot spun back to the edge of the water and his recovery went through the green.
"The greens are very tricky, bumpy," said Thongchai, who tied for 13th at last month's Open Championship and is a multiple international winner.
"It can be hard to read the lines."
Fujita struck his approach long at the 9th and was in thick rough behind the green. His chip then ran 40 feet past the cup and he two-putted for a bogey five.
That did not dampen the spirits of the 40-year-old, a seven-times winner on the Japan Tour.
"I was happy to see the leaderboard, to see my name on it," he said.
"I can do better than today's score. I have confidence."