Chan sank six birdies and one eagle at the Gunung Raya Golf Resort on the holiday isle while Jackson penciled down eight birdies in the RM250,000 (approximately US$80,000) Asian Development Tour tournament (ADT).
American Paul Harris carded a 66 to share third place with Thai brothers Sattaya Supupramai and Poosit Supupramai while Chinese prospect Zhi Shang carded a 67 for equal sixth position with Singapore’s Koh Deng Shan, Chinese Taipei’s Hsieh Tung-shu and Pasamet Pogamnerd of Thailand.
Malaysia’s Shaaban Hussin, Rizal Amin and Farid Rashid are amongst those bunched on 68 in what is the third leg of the 2014 ADT season.
After sinking an eagle on his outward nine following a superb approach shot from 210 yards, Chan hit top gear by rolling in another six birdies to put himself in the lead with Jackson in the event sanctioned with the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM).
“This is my first time in Langkawi and I’m really enjoying my time here. I like the nature around the golf course and you can see a lot of monkeys on the course!” said Chan.
“My game has been good. I’ve been playing on the ADT for several seasons now and I’m enjoying my time. There are a lot of young players here and I am always finding a way to improve my game. I’ve been in contention a few times, hopefully I can win.”
The omen was good for Jackson the moment he stepped into the locker room. “I was given the locker with the number 64 and I guess that was the key to my round,” said Jackson, , who won once on the ADT and finished fifth on the Order of Merit last season.
“I played really nicely and holed a few putts. I was working on my putting with a putting aide in my room for two hours last night and I guess it helped me today. I didn’t play too well in the first two events of the season, so this is a nice way to start the tournament.”
This season, the ADT will reward the top five players on the final Order of Merit at the end of the season with playing rights for the 2015 Asian Tour season.
This will be a significant boost for aspiring professionals on the ADT as this represents the highest number of Asian Tour cards up for grabs since the ADT was established in 2010. Only the top three players on the final ADT Order of Merit for each season obtained their Asian Tour cards previously.
The ADT, which was launched in 2010 with five tournaments before growing to eight in 2011, 13 in 2012 and a record 16 in the 2013 season, has established itself as a successful platform for upcoming players to gain entry on the region’s premier Tour.
Leading first round scores
64: CHAN Shih-Chang (TPE), Grant JACKSON (ENG)
66: Paul HARRIS (USA), Sattaya SUPUPRAMAI (THA), Poosit SUPUPRAMAI (THA)
67: ZHI Shang (CHN), Pasamet POGAMNERD (THA), KOH Deng Shan (SIN), HSIEH Tung-shu (TPE)
68: Shaaban HUSSIN (MAS), Masaru TAKAHASHI (JPN), Mitsuhiko HASHIZUME (JPN), Nils FLOREN (SWE), Rattanon WANNASRICHAN (THA), Farid RASHID (MAS), Blair WILSON (AUS), Rizal AMIN (MAS), Pavit TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA)