Sabah teenager Solomon Emilio matched the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour Player of the Year Airil Rizman on the first day of the Swiss-Garden Closed Championship today to grab a share of the lead in the RM180,000 event in Lumut, Perak.
In a deep and strong field, featuring almost all of the country’s top players, eighteen-year-old Solomon fired a four-under 68 in tough conditions to lead alongside Airil at Damai Laut Golf & Country Club.
The young Kota Kinabalu player, who only turned pro in January and has a top-15 spot as his best finish so far, buried seven birdies in a round that also saw him double-bogey the par-4 4th hole and bogey the par-3 17th hole.
It was gallant effort that left the young man to note: “I played very well and had seven birdies. But the double-bogey and bogey messed up what would have been a special number for me.
“Still, I’m really happy with how I started today. I hit my irons very well and I putted well too, even if some of the greens did not run true.”
To fully understand just how well Solomon played, a look at the leaderboard shows that only the top-six players in the field managed to shoot under-par today.
Ben Leong carded a three-under 69 that left one stroke off the top, while Shahriffuddin Ariffin, Lam Yu Shuen and Anis Hassan were joint fourth on 71.
Tournament director, (R) Gen Ron Mahendran said after the day’s play: “For the first tournament after our mid-season break, this is a great turnout as nearly all our top pros are here in Lumut. There are one or two players not here, but there are valid reasons for that.”
The PGM Tour boss added that it was encouraging to see Low Khai Jei in good form as well. The country’s leading amateur shot a first day 74 for a tie of 16th place. With a top-five finish already under his belt on the PGM Tour this season, Khai Jei will aiming to make inroads into the top of the standings with a little bit of luck and a determined performance over the next three days.
Leading First Round Scores
68 Solomon Emilio, Airil Rizman
69 Ben Leong
71 Shahriffuddin Ariffin, Lam Yu Shuen, Anis Hassan
72 Sukree Othman, S. Siva Chandhran, Danny Chia, Wilson Choo, Muhd Afif Razif (A)
73 Kenneth De Silva, Rizal Amin, R. Nachimuthu, Kenneth Tobuse
74 M. Sasidaran, Nicholas Fung, Low Khai Jei (A), Rashid Ismail, T. Kiishaan