Airil Rizman opened with a five-under-par 67 without playing a practice round to share the lead with Paul Donahoo of Australia at the PGM MNRB Sarawak Championship on Wednesday.
Airil produced six birdies against one bogey including a par save on the last hole when he brilliantly made up-and-down from the greenside bunker to share the lead at the Kelab Golf Sarawak.
Malaysia’s Wilson Choo and Atthaphon Sriboonkaew of Thailand were a further shot back in third place on equal 68s at the RM200,000 (approximately US$55,400) Asian Development Tour (ADT) event.
“I’m a lot more consistent but I don’t seem to be producing the results this year. I made more cuts up to this point compared to last year. My scores are definitely more consistent but I haven’t had any super low rounds to help me contend for the title,” said Airil.
Airil, who won on the Asian Tour in 2007, believes that his low round today is a sign of better things to come. “I enjoyed a good season last year and that only started in June! I’m happy with my progress so far and I guess I have one more month to hit that form again. ” he laughed.
Playing in his third ADT event this year, Donahoo credited his tee shots for his solid start where he posted six birdies.
“I like the course. It suits my eye. I’ve played quite good this year. I only need to put four good rounds together. I’ve been staying patient and I’m just going through the processes to see where it leads me,” said the 34-year-old Australian.
Since it was inaugurated as a gateway to the Asian Tour in 2010, the ADT has grown from five events in the first year to a record 21 tournaments in both 2014 and 2015.
The ADT will continue to reward the top-five finishers on the Order of Merit at the end of this season with Asian Tour cards for 2016.
With the Olympic Games looming in 2016 where golf will be reintroduced as a medal sport, players in the region could earn their spots in Rio de Janeiro by earning Official World Golf Ranking points through the Asian Tour and ADT.
For more information on the ADT, please visit www.asiandevelopmenttour.com
Leading first round scores:
67 – Paul DONAHOO (AUS), Airil Rizman ZAHARI (MAS)
68 – Atthaphon SRIBOONKAEW (THA), Wilson CHOO (MAS)
69 – Malcolm KOKOCINSKI (SWE , R. Nachimuthu (MAS), Mohd Amli MOHIYADEEN (MAS), Zurie HARUN (MAS), LOW Khai Jei (A) (MAS), Pavit TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA), M. Sasidaran (MAS), Erwan VIEILLEDENT (FRA)
70 – Nils FLOREN (SWE), Casey O’TOOLE (USA), Masaru TAKAHASHI (JPN), Wisut ARTJANAWAT (THA), Rizal AMIN (MAS), Michael MOORE (AUS), Nirun SAE-UENG (THA), Jake STIRLING (AUS), Annop TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA), Clarke LUTTON (SCO), Konstantin LIU (HKG)