Newcomer Doohwan Bang of Korea got off to a hot start when he fired a five-under-par 67 to seize the opening round lead at the PGM UMW Championship on Wednesday.
Bang, playing in only his second Asian Development Tour (ADT) event, fired one eagle and five birdies against two bogeys to lead by one shot over local hope Kemarol Baharin, England’s Simon Griffiths, American Baxter Reeves and ADT winner Panuwat Muenlek of Thailand at the Templer Park Country Club.
A host of nine players, including Asian Tour Qualifying School graduates Jose Rolz of Guatemala, American duo Samuel Chien and Nicolas Paez, shared sixth place after returning with matching rounds of 69 at the RM200,000 (approximately US$46,600) ADT event.
Local amateur Ervin Chang, who will be teeing up in the lucrative Maybank Championship Malaysia in a fortnight’s time, and John Michael O’Toole, cousin of the reigning ADT Order of Merit champion Casey, are also among those bunched in sixth place at the PGM UMW Championship, which is the third stop of the ADT schedule this season.
Kemarol, chasing for a maiden win on the region’s burgeoning Tour, credited his hot iron-play as he hit 16 greens in regulation.
“I’m hitting the ball good. I managed my shots very well today. My approach shots were good too as I managed to hit it really close to the pins,” said the 30-year-old Malaysian, who fired five birdies against a lone bogey.
Having enjoyed a seventh-place finish in Sabah last month, Kemarol hopes to ride on his recent run of good form to secure a breakthrough victory this week.
“The course is in a great condition. The game’s in good shape. I will continue to do what I have been doing and hopefully this week can be my week,” added Kemarol.
With the Olympic Games looming this July 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 results:
67 – Doohwan BANG (KOR)
68 – Kemarol BAHARIN (MAS), Simon GRIFFITHS (ENG), Panuwat MUENLEK (THA), Baxter REEVES (USA)
69 – Sorachut HANSAPIBAN (THA), Jay BAYRON (PHI), Samuel CHIEN (USA), Shane SMITH (USA), Ervin CHANG (A) (MAS), Sukree OTHMAN (MAS), Jose ROLZ (GTM), Nicolas PAEZ (USA), John Michael O’TOOLE (USA)
70 – Lexus KEONINH (USA), Shaaban HUSSIN (MAS), Soonsang HONG (KOR), Johannes VEERMAN (USA), Namchok TANTIPOKHAKUL (THA), Pawin INGKHAPRADIT (THA), Jihwan PARK (KOR), Lindsay RENOLDS (CAN), Poom SAKSANSIN (THA), Janne KASKE (FIN), Nirun SAE-UENG (THA), Oskar ARVIDSSON (SWE), John CATLIN (USA)