Malaysia’s Wilson Choo set the scorching pace with a course record eight-under-par 64 to share the opening round lead with Nattapong Putta of Thailand at the PGM LADA Langkawi Championship on Wednesday.
Starting from the 10th hole, Choo nailed eight birdies, which included five in succession from the fourth in his inward-nine, while Nattapong, who played in the afternoon, matched his efforts with six birdies and one eagle at the Gunung Raya Golf Resorts.
The leading duo holds a one-shot lead over Torben Baumann of Germany, who is placed third, while Thailand’s Pasamet Pogamnerd, Janne Kaske of Finland, local prospects Low Khai Jei and Syarif Yasin shared fourth place on 67 at the RM200,000 (approximately US$60,000) event.
A host of seven players including local hope Kenneth De Silva, Sweden’s Nils Floren and Pijit Petchkasem of Thailand were tied in eighth place following identical 68s at the PGM LADA Langkawi Championship, which is the second leg of the Asian Development Tour (ADT) schedule this season.
Choo credited his experience from playing with renowned Asian Tour winner Anthony Kang of the United States in his National Open last week for what was his best opening round on the ADT since he started to ply his trade on the burgeoning Tour in 2011.
“I learnt a lot from playing with Anthony last week. It was a great experience and I guess that kind of motivated me to play better. I’m very happy with how I played today. My tee shots were good and I putted well,” said Choo, who remembered being a volunteer and a scorer for Kang when he won the Maybank Malaysian Open in 2009.
Choo, who hails from Kelantan and now resides in Kuala Lumpur, was delighted to shoot a 64 for the second time in his career. His first 64 came during the second round of the local tournament in 2013 where he won his maiden professional title.
“The course is in great condition. You have to hit as many fairways and greens as possible in order to score. Hopefully I can continue my good form in the next few rounds. My aim for the year is to do well on the ADT and hopefully play my way onto the Asian Tour in the near future,” added the 25-year-old Malaysian.
Nattapong, who joined the play-for-pay ranks in 2008, putted imperiously for his career-best round.
“I played really solid today. Everything went well for me, especially my putting. This is the best round I have shot in my career so far. It was quite windy this afternoon so I am really happy with how I played today,” said the 27-year-old Thai, who amassed only 24 putts.
The ADT will 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:
64 – Wilson CHOO (MAS), Nattapong PUTTA (THA)
65 – Torben BAUMANN (GER)
67 – LOW Khai Jei (A) (MAS), Pasamet PONGAMNERD (THA), Janne KASKE (FIN), Syarif YASIN (MAS)
68 – Kenneth DE SILVA (MAS), Nils FLOREN (SWE), Akhmal TARMIZEE (MAS), Micah Lauren