Highly rated Nicholas Fung of Malaysia and Dutchman Guido Van Der Valk were the only players to break par with an opening round one-under-par 71 at the PGM -MIDF-KLGCC Classic on Thursday.
Guido Van Der Valk
The duo held a one stroke lead over Japanese Yosuke Tsukada, who bogeyed the last two holes, and Artemio Murakami of the Philippines in the RM200,000 (approximately US$66,666) event which is the season-finale for this year’s Asian Development Tour (ADT).
Malaysians Rashid Ismail and Akhmal Tarmizee, who finished third on the ADT Order of Merit last year, and Marlon Dizon of the Philippines were tied in fifth place on 73 at the majestic Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
Fung, who won two local titles this year, turned in 36 and carded a superb chip in on the par three 11th hole from 30 yards for his only birdie on the homeward nine.
“I’ve never played so well on this course before. It was an average day for me but I’m playing with a lot of confidence after winning two titles,” said the 21-year-old.
Van Der Valk, who finished second at the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic on the Asian Tour two weeks ago, fired five birdies against two bogeys and one double bogey to tie for the lead.
“Apart from the double bogey, it was a solid round. If you hit good iron shots you will be able to get a good score here. I’ll take my score on this golf course,” said Van Der Valk, who is searching for his first ADT win.
Murakami, who won the 2007 Johor Open on the Asian Tour, has much to play for as he vies to break into the top three on the Order of Merit which affords the top trio Asian Tour cards for 2012.
He was three over after eight holes but battled back with four consecutive birdies starting from 18 before adding one birdie against two bogeys.
“I could have been a couple of under but made some mistakes out there. It was a really good fight back considering my slow start. I’m here to finish a job and I’ll have three more days to do it,” said the bubbly Filipino, currently fifth on the Order of Merit.
Tsukada, who held the first round lead at the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic before finishing in tied 37th place, was two-under before three putting for bogeys on 17 and 18.
“It was a good round until the last two bogeys which was disappointing. I could have done better there. I need more consistency in my game,” said Tsukada, who is placed ninth on the Order of Merit.
Current Order of Merit leader Jonathan Moore of the United States shot a 74 to lie three shots off the lead.
Initiated by the Asian Tour, which is the official sanctioning body for professional tournament golf in Asia, the ADT was launched last year with the objective of creating a viable platform for young and aspiring professionals to hone their game and skills before joining the elite Asian Tour.
The PGM-MIDF-KLGCC Classic is the eighth and final leg this year which is three tournaments more than last year’s inaugural season.
Leading first round scores
71 - Nicholas FUNG (MAS), Guido VAN DER VALK (HOL)
74 - Takafumi KAWANE (JPN), Zurie HARUN (MAS), Jonathan MOORE (USA), Gerald ROSALES (PHI)
75 - S. Murthy (MAS), KAO Shang-hung (TPE), Cash LEE (MAS), Muhammad Al-Warith (MAS), R. Nachimuthu (MAS), Hilmi ABD. RAHMAN (MAS), Wittawat SAE-UNG (THA), Shaifubari MUDA (MAS), Matt JAGER (AUS), A. Sasar (MAS), Paul SAN (A) (MAS)