The PGM Kinrara Championship, which is the 23rd leg of the ADT schedule this season, has been reduced to 54 holes by tournament officials due to bad haze where the Air Pollution Index (API) is expected to be in an unhealthy range over the next few days.
The opening round was rescheduled for a shotgun start at 8.00am local time on Thursday morning. All players will return for the second round on Friday morning with another shotgun start at 8.15am while the third and final round will take place on Saturday.
“The tournament has been affected by persistent haze situation in the local area and the Air Pollution Index (API) is expected to be high over the next few days. Therefore, we have taken the decision to reduce the tournament to 54 holes in the best interest of the players,” said Adnan Othman, the Tournament Director for PGM Kinrara Championship.
American Casey O’Toole, who leads the current Asian Development Tour (ADT) Order of Merit, stayed one shot back in fourth place with 13 other players, including compatriot Paul Harris, ADT winners Janne Kaske of Finland and Japan’s Masaru Takahashi at the Kinrara Golf Club.
Indonesian William Sjaichudin, Singapore’s Koh Deng Shan and Shabaan Hussin of Malaysia were among the eight players bunched in tied-18th position following identical 69s at the RM200,000 (approximately US$50,000) event.
O’Toole, playing in his second year on the region’s burgeoning Tour, was delighted with his opening round performance after marking his card with three birdies against one bogey.
“I had a solid round and I am pleased with how I played. I went home for three weeks back in Alabama and worked on some good stuff so I was a little nervous teeing it up this morning. I was just a little unsure of how it would react under the gun, but it turned out nice,” said O’Toole, who has notched a total of eight top-10s this season.
The 24-year-old American will keep his expectations at bay as he hunts for a maiden victory on the ADT.
“I really don’t think about winning to be honest. I just enjoy trying to get in contention as much as I can and learn from each experience. I have learned a lot this year and I know it will happen whenever it is supposed to,” added O’Toole.
Meanwhile Harris credited his sharp shooting game for his strong start and is determined to continue his good form heading into the next two rounds of the PGM Kinrara Championship.
“My ball striking was pretty good today and I was able to give myself some good chances for birdies out there. I was fortunate some of those fell but I felt like I could have made more. The course is quite short and positioning my ball to my favorite yardage was key.
“I stayed patient out there. I feel like the course has set up well for me. I am looking forward to playing tomorrow,” said the 25-year-old Harris, who traded four birdies against two bogeys.
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.
The ADT is celebrating its sixth season where it has grown immensely from five events in the first year in 2010 to a record 27 tournaments in 2015.
For more information on the ADT, please visit www.asiandevelopmenttour.com
Leading first round scores
67 – Ronnachai JAMNONG (THA), Poom SAKSANSIN (THA) , M Alwarith DAMIAN (MAS)
68 – Casey O’TOOLE (USA) , Chanat SAKULPOLPHAISAN (THA) , Sukree OTHMAN (MAS) , Masaru TAKAHASHI (JPN) , Erwan VIEILLEDENT (FRA) , Kenneth TOBUSE (MAS) , Mars PUCAY (PHI) , Paul HARRIS (USA) , Janne KASKE (FIN) , Kemarol BAHARIN (MAS) , C.M. Chong (MAS) , Abel TAM (MAS) , Supravee PHATAM (THA) , Josh SALAH (USA)
69 – Shaaban HUSSIN (MAS) , Andrew WIRAWAN (INA) , William SJAICHUDIN (INA) , Micah Lauren SHIN (USA) , KOH Deng Shan (SIN) , Hans JAMIL (MAS) , Rudy THUILLIER (FRA) , Shariffuddin ARIFFIN (MAS)
70 – Thammanoon SRIROJ (THA) , Gavin GREEN (MAS) , Jordan SHERRATT (AUS) , Michael TRAN (VIE) , Nirun SAE-UENG (THA) , Irfan YUSOFF (MAS) , Malcolm KOKOCINSKI (SWE) , Mohd Amli MOHIYADEEN (MAS) , Pasavee LERTVILAI (THA) , Takashi OKUDA (JPN) , CHOO Tze Huang (SIN) , Natthapong NIYOMCHON (THA) , Johnson POH (SIN)