Malaysia’s Danny Chia shot an excellent opening seven-under-par 64 to grab the clubhouse lead by one shot at the weather-disrupted PGM MIDF TPC Kuala Lumpur Championship on Wednesday.
Chia, who proudly represented his country in the Olympic Games last month, marked his card with one eagle and seven birdies against a double-bogey to sit atop the leaderboard at the RM200,000 (approximately US$46,600) Asian Development Tour (ADT) event.
Singapore’s Mitchell Slorach and American James Bowen settled for second place while Thailand’s Poom Saksansin, American Micah Lauren Shin, South African Mathiam Keyser and local talent Ben Leong shared fourth following matching 66s at the TPC Kuala Lumpur.
Starting from the 10, Chia nailed four birdies and one eagle to cap a superb front nine 30. He added three more birdies on his way home but stumbled with a double-bogey on par-four nine for his only blemish of the day.
“I got off to a superb start. I made an eagle on the 16. I hit it to the right and had about 215 metres to the pin before hitting it to 10 feet and sank the putt. My putting was solid. I could have done better if not for the double-bogey on my last hole today but overall, it was still a solid round,” said the 43-year-old.
Playing in his first tournament since returning from the Olympics, Chia took advantage of his well-rested break to launch a title charge for a fifth ADT win and a second victory this season.
“I have taken some rest after returning from Rio. I worked on my swing a bit and went to the gym to get the fitness up. I am hitting it better and I am feeling better with my game. The course is playing longer due to the rain but the greens are still nice and soft. Hitting it straight off the tee will be the key to score out there,” Chia added.
Slorach, searching for a breakthrough win, rode on his hot putter for a commendable round where he navigated his way around the course with only 24 putts.
“I played solid off the tee. I managed to hit it close and I putted very well. The course is in a good condition despite the rain. I am pleased with how I played and I am looking forward to the next round tomorrow,” said the 28-year-old Singaporean.
Bowen, a two-time winner on the ADT but not since 2013, was thrilled to regain some of his best form when he carded eight birdies against two bogeys.
“It’s been awhile since I last got into contention. I have been working hard and it’s good to see some efforts paying off. I hope to keep up with my putting. I hit some good shots today and I made a couple of 20-footers. My approach shots and tee shots were pretty good too,” said the 30-year-old Bowen.
The opening round of the PGM MIDF TPC Kuala Lumpur Championship was delayed for two hours on Wednesday morning due to heavy rain. It was later abandoned for the day at 7.41pm due to fading light.
A total of eight players will return to the East course on Thursday morning at 7.25am to complete their opening rounds with the second round starting at 7.30am as originally scheduled.
The ADT will reward the top-five finishers on the Order of Merit at the end of this season with Asian Tour cards for 2017.
Like all other ADT events, the PGM MIDF TPC Kuala Lumpur Championship will offer Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points to the top six players and ties based on a sliding scale.
For more information on the ADT, please visit www.asiandevelopmenttour.com
Leading first round scores:
64 – Danny CHIA (MAS)
65 – Mitchell SLORACH (SIN) , James BOWEN (USA)
66 – Poom SAKSANSIN (THA) , Micah Lauren SHIN (USA) , Ben LEONG (MAS) , Mathiam KEYSER (RSA)
67 – Panuwat MUENLEK (THA) , Nicholas FUNG (MAS)
68 – Oskar ARVIDSSON (SWE) , John Michael O’TOOLE (USA) , Zurie HARUN (MAS) , Gavin GREEN (MAS)
69 – Shakhawat SOHEL (BAN) , Sukree OTHMAN (MAS) , Philip TAN (MAS) , Rizal AMIN (MAS)
70 – M. Sasidaran (MAS) , K P LIN (TWN) , Solomon Emilio ROSIDIN (MAS) , Shariffuddin ARIFFIN (MAS) , James BYRNE (SCO) , Brandon LAU Ka Kin (MAS) , Pannakorn UTHAIPAS (THA) , Alex TIONG (MAS) , Pasamet POGAMNERD (THA) , Kemarol BAHARIN (MAS) , LAM Yu Shuen (MAS)