Home favourite Chan Shih-chang rode on his fine form and good course knowledge to grab a share of the lead with an opening three-under-par 69 at the US$120,000 Ambassador ADT on Thursday.
Chan, a four-time Asian Development Tour (ADT) winner, fired one eagle and two birdies against a lone bogey on his home course to lead by one shot alongside countrymen Chang Tse-peng, as well as Asian Tour winners Lu Wei-chih and Tsai Chi-huang at the Hsin Feng Golf and Country Club.
Local stalwart Lin Wen-tang battled against the strong winds in the morning to settle for fifth place with Australian Darren Tan, compatriots Lin Chien-bing and Hsien Chi-hsien, who leads the current ADT Order of Merit with a season’s haul of US$31,077.
Singapore’s Choo Tze-huang and Australian Jake Stirling posted matching 71s to share nine place at the Ambassador ADT, which is the 11th leg of the 2015 ADT season and also the Tour’s second stop in Chinese Taipei this season.
Coming off the back of a victory in China last week, Chan extended his fine form with a steady display highlighted by birdies on the fifth and 12th holes, as well as a brilliant 15-foot eagle on 14th before dropping his only shot of the day on 15th.
“My putting wasn’t that good today because I was still trying to adjust back to the grass here, after playing overseas for the past one month or so. I putted harder than I ought to be. I missed a couple of chances for birdies as well. I’m not too satisfied with a 69 actually. I think I can do better than this,” said Chan.
“It wasn’t too windy in the afternoon but it’s on and off so it’s kind of tacky to gauge where the wind is coming from out there. I’ve played on this course for so many years and I’ve experienced stronger winds so I knew how to tackle it,” added Chan, who finished second on the final ADT Order of Merit last season thanks to three victories.
Lu, a three-time Asian Tour winner, was delighted to be back in full length after recovering from a nagging flu just before the start of the tournament.
“I have been down with a bad flu and fever for the past one week or so. I was sick earlier but just when I was about to get better, my kids fell sick and I kind of got the flu virus again. It has been pretty unbearable for the past one week or so but I’m glad I recovered just in time for this week’s tournament,” said the 36-year-old Lu, who traded three birdies against one bogey.
“Overall, I played pretty good even though I missed an eagle on the 14th by an inch! I’m not too happy with my tee shots as well but it’s still alright. I didn’t hit it really off. I had a good save for birdie on the fifth after hitting it into a tree so that got my momentum going into the round,” added Lu.
Tsai, a two-time winner of the prestigious Mercuries Taiwan Masters, said: “I chipped well today and I sank an eagle-putt from 20 feet on the ninth. I held in there and sank three birdies in a row from the 12th. This is a challenging golf course so I am happy with how I played today.”
Chang, who missed only one green in regulation, said: “I told myself to play shot by shot and not think too much out there. I enjoyed my game a lot today. It’s good to be in the lead but it’s only the first round. There’s still a lot more to do. I’m looking forward to the next round and we will see how it goes.”
Apart from the Ambassador ADT, the Yeangder Group also sponsored the Charming Yeangder ADT which took place in March and backs the Yeangder Tournament Players’ Championship (TPC) which is returning for its sixth edition on the Asian Tour in October.
Since it was inaugurated in 2010, the ADT has grown from five events in the first year to a record 21 tournaments in both 2014 and 2015.
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.
Leading first round scores:
69 – CHANG Tse-peng (TPE), CHAN Shih-chang (TPE), LU Wei-chih (TPE), TSAI Chi-huang (TPE)
70 – LIN Wen-tang (TPE), HSIEH Chi-hsien (TPE), LIN Chien-bing (TPE), Darren TAN (AUS)
71 – Jake STIRLING (AUS), CHOO Tze Huang (SIN)
72 – HSIEH Tung-shu (TPE), CHEN Chung-cheng (TPE), HSIEH Tung-hung (TPE), Sam CYR (USA), Erwan VIEILLEDENT (FRA), KHOR Kheng Hwai (MAS), WANG Cheng-chi (TPE), Micah Lauren SHIN (USA), Blake SNYDER (USA), KAO Shang-hung (TPE), Mitsuhiko HASHIZUME (JAP), CHIANG Chen-chih (TPE)