Gyeongjun Lee of Korea took advantage of his early preparation as he fired a seven-under-par 65 to lead by two shots in the first round of The Bali National Golf Championship on Thursday.
The 19-year-old teenager arrived a week earlier to prepare for the US$76,000 Asian Development Tour (ADT) event and his efforts was rewarded with a blemish free round at the Bali National Golf Club.
ADT winners Sean Riordan of New Zealand, Nirun Sae-Ueng of Thailand and Hsieh Chi-hsien of Chinese Taipei, the current ADT Order of Merit leader were bunched in second place alongside India’s Khalin Joshi.
Ramadhan Alwie was the best placed local player in tied sixth place on 68 with Australians Matthew Giles and Jake Stirling.
Aided by his father who was on his bag, Lee, who is searching for a first ADT win, enjoyed a solid round where he did not miss a single fairway.
“I’m very happy with how I played. I hit it so well off the tees. I also missed only three greens so I would call my round an almost ‘perfect’ round,” smiled Lee, who turned professional two years ago.
“I came here one week earlier so I had the opportunity to play three to four practice rounds. I usually stay back or go earlier for events. That’s my style. My father caddies for me and we are a good team. I pity my dad because he is old and he gets tired but whenever he doesn’t caddy for me, I don’t play well,” he laughed.
Gym-buff Hsieh, who is a two-time ADT winner, got off to a flying start as he was five-under at the turn. He picked up another birdie on hole four before dropping his only shot on the seventh hole.
“I’m lucky to have a good score. This is my first time in Bali and I’m enjoying myself here. I finished badly on the last three holes. I played very well on the front nine where I was five-under. I hit it very nice there and my putts dropped,” said the 24-year-old.
The 22-year-old Joshi produced six birdies against one bogey after hitting a poor drive after watching his par putt lip out on the fifth hole. The Indian is enjoying a good run of form as he missed only one cut in six appearances and finished tied second in Bangladesh on the Asian Tour last month.
“This is a good start to the tournament. I’m feeling good about my game and my scores prove it. I came here with a relaxed mind because I’ve heard a lot about Bali. It is beautiful around here. I’m happy and fortunate to be here,” said Joshi.
The 20-year-old Nirun, who won on the ADT in May, was disappointed not to return with a lower score when he three putted the last hole for bogey.
“My approach and putting were very good but I’m slightly disappointed because I three putted on the last hole. It is only the first day so we have a long way more to go. This is a very nice golf course and it suits my game. I look forward to the challenge,” said Nirun.
The Bali National Golf Resort Championship will be the 15th leg of the 2015 ADT season and also the first of the three stops in Indonesia. Admission to The Bali National Golf Championship is free.
Since it was inaugurated in 2010, the ADT has grown from five events in the first year to a record 22 tournaments in 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:
65 – Gyeongjun LEE (KOR)
67 – Khalin JOSHI (IND) , HSIEH Chi-hsien (TWN) , Sean RIORDAN (NZL) , Nirun SAE-UENG (THA)
68 – Ramadhan ALWIE (INA) , Jake STIRLING (AUS) , Matthew GILES (AUS)
69 – William SJAICHUDIN (INA) , Lindsay RENOLDS (CAN) , Micah Lauren SHIN (USA) , Poosit SUPUPRAMAI (THA)
70 – Mitsuhiko HASHIZUME (JPN) , Mark LEICH (AUS) , Michael MOORE (AUS) , Jordan SHERRATT (AUS)
71 – Andrew WIRAWAN (INA) , Ian ANDREW (INA) , Rinaldi ADIYANDONO (INA) , LAM Chih Bing (SIN) , Jinwoo PARK (KOR) , Sutijet KOORATANAPISAN (THA) , Blake SNYDER (USA) , Mitchell SLORACH (SIN) , Charles HONG (PHI) , Arie Irawan (MAS) , Josh SALAH (USA)
72 – Leon ANG (SIN) , Tommy MANSUWAN (THA) , Paul DONAHOO (AUS) , Benita YUNIARTO (INA) , Ratchapol JANTAVARA (THA) , CHAN Shih-chang (TPE) , Chanat SAKULPOLPHAISAN (THA) , Katsunari TAKAHASHI (JPN) , David WILSON (AUS)