Toyota Tour 2023 Order of Merit winner Ervin Chang has found himself back on familiar territory by jointly leading Kemarol Baharin in the first round of the Vios Cup at the scenic and very challenging Templer Park Country Club here.

Chang, whose first victory as a professional was at the Mirai Cup in Kuching last year, scored five birdies against a lone bogey for a four-under 68 while veteran Kemarol submitted a similar card also comprising five birdies and a bogey.

Lurking in third place one stroke behind is Shahriffuddin Ariffin who is still recuperating from body aches due to stress. He turned in a bogey-free score of three-under 69, while bunched in joint fourth a further stroke behind on 70 are M. Sasidaran, Tony Lam and amateur Anson Yeo.

Defending champion Edven Ying turned in a score of 1-under 71 while current OOM leader Galven Green, winner of the last two Toyota Tour events, found the going tough, scoring three birdies and five bogeys.

The highlight of the day was when amateur Pang Hee Jie holed her tee shot at the short but tricky Par 3 16th hole, emerging as the first lady golfer ever, to score an ace on the Toyota Tour which is organised by the Professional Golf Malaysia and delivered by MST Golf.

Chang, who returned from Phuket on Sunday after competing in two Asian Development Tour events, remarked that he struck the ball well. “I struggled a little bit with my putting on the front nine. I didn’t have a practice round yesterday and instead walked nine holes.

“Generally quite happy with today’s round, had a solid back nine with four birdies and gave myself a lot of opportunities. It’s been a while since I played some good golf. I struggled after the tournament in Saudi and took me some time to get back and try a few things out. Everything seemed to click today and quite pleased with the results.”

Kemarol surprised himself when he hit all 14 fairways – something which he hasn’t been able to do well due to issues with the shaft. “I had fairly good approach shots and putted quite well. I like this course and I’ve won here about 10 years ago. I hope to make better approaches to the greens tomorrow.”

Geraldine Wong, who won the season-opening Tun Ahmad Sarji Trophy at Saujana GCC in March, is the Ladies Championship first round leader by one stroke after carding an even par 72

“The conditions were good, and the greens were tough. I was missing several six-footers but found consolation with two chip-ins including at the last hole after leaving it short with a wedge. But I’ll still stick to my game plan.

Lying in joint second were Durriyah Damian and amateur Tan Ying Ying on one-over 73. Last year’s OOM winner Aretha Pan lies joint fourth with defending champion Jocelyn Chee and amateur Ng Jing Xuen.

Leading Men’s Rd 1 scores
68 Ervin Chang, Kemarol Baharin
69 Shahriffuddin Ariffin
70 M Sasidaran, Tony Lam, Anson Yeo (am)
71 Edven Ying, Malcolm Ting, Afif Fathi, Ben Leong
72 Ryan Fernandez, Danny Chia, Jaydon Pang, Lam Kong Foo (am), Paul San, Zia Izzuddeen, Daeng Rahman

72 Geraldine Wong
73 Durriyah Damian, Tan Ying Ying (am)
74 Jocelyn Chee, Aretha Pan, Ng Jing Xuen (am)
75 Alya Afza Hazari (am)

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