Local amateur Huynh shares first round lead
Vietnam amateur Huynh Van Son was arguably the proudest man in his country today when he took a surprise share of the first round lead in the inaugural Mercedes-Benz Championship Vietnam.
The 29 year old carded a three-under-par 69 at Vietnam Golf & Country Club along with Mars Pucay and Jay Bayron from the Philippines, and Thailand's Pol Kemmarat. They lead by a stroke from Thailand's Pijit Petchakasem and Nakul Vichitryuthasastr in the US$50,000 tournament.
Huynh is one of eight Vietnamese playing in the ASEAN Golf Tour event. They are all amateurs and have minimal experience playing at the professional level so few expected one of them to be at the top of the leader board. "I was a bit nervous because I was playing with professionals. I had some luck today. It is a special feeling for me," said Huynh.
Luck also combined with local knowledge as Huynh started playing golf at Vietnam Golf & Country Club as a caddie 12 years ago. He later moved on to become a marshal at the club. He stopped working at the club two years ago and has a number of part time jobs to fund his golf career. He competed for Vietnam in the 2005 South East Asian Games in the Philippines. "I have shot a 64 around here before but that was just with friends. I didn't expect to do so well today. I will have pressure now for the next few rounds," added Huynh, who was taught to play golf by his father. Bayron is also an amateur but boasts stronger credentials.
He was part of the team that won the team gold medal in the 2005 South East Games - an event he has played in three times. The 28 year old from Davao has also played in the Putra Cup on four occasion and has finished in the top 20 in the past two ASEAN Golf Tour events. "I missed about five good birdie chances today so it really could have been better. I am playing well right now and getting ready for the forthcoming Putra Cup and South East Asian Games. I will think about turning pro afterwards," said Bayron, who plays his golf at Canlubang Golf & Country Club.
Pucay is the established name at the top having won the Active Mount Malarayat Championship in the Philippines last month, which was the Tour's second leg. He said: "Things have started to come together for me on the golf course. For years I have been playing conservatively but for the first time this season I have been playing aggressive." His more famous compatriot Felix Casas shot a 71 and is likely to be a threat this week having finished fourth last week in Singapore.
Leading first round scores - Par 72:
69 – Huynh Van Son (VNM) (a), Mars Pucay (PHI), Jay Bayron (PHI), Pol Kemmarat (THA)
70 – Pijit Petchakasem (THA), Nakul Vichitryuthasastr (THA)
71 – Khor Kheng Hwai (MAS), Felix Casas (PHI)
73 – Jacky Bong (MAS), Louie Dacudao (PHI), Joenard Rates (PHI), Sirapong Maitreeyuenyong (THA), Pornsakon Tipsanit (THA)
74 – Gary Kwek (SIN), Pravee Visalkit (THA)
(a) denotes amateur
November 14, 2007