Kota Bharu: Mohd Nazri Mohd Zain combined local knowledge with some good scrambling play to pull two strokes ahead of the field after the opening round of the RM125,000 Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Kelantan Classic.
Despite hitting only six fairways, the Kelantan native mixed eight birdies against two bogeys to post a solid 66 at the Kelantan Golf & Country Club to lead Sabahan Sofian Kepli and Akhmal Tarmizee Mohd Nazari who took a share of second with rounds of four-under 68.
Sukree Othman and Dinata Abdillah were a further shot back on 69 while S. Murthy, Hanafiah Jamil and Sarawakian qualifier Kalana Ibrahim got off with matching two-under 70s. Two-time PGM winner Md Rashid Ismail was bunched with Anil Helmi Hassan,Ridzuan Kamaruddin, Airil Rizman and Lam Shu Yuen on one-under 71. Defending champion Kemarol Baharin started poorly, only managing a round of three-over 75.
Born in the surrounding area of Pengkalan Chepa, Mohd Nazri got his campaign underway with a sizzling start, nailing five straight birdies from tee-off before adding a further birdie on the ninth to make the turn on 30. On the back nine, he cancelled bogeys on the 10th and 17th with birdies at the 14th and the 18th.
“I am very happy with my game today. I know this course well because I practically grew up here but I am also thankful to my coach Aziz Zainal who’s helped work on my game for 2012, said Nazri, who practically picked up the game on his own and had stints as a caddie at Kelantan GCC before joining the professional ranks.
I had makeable putts on the front nine and converted my chances. The back nine is slightly longer and tougher with the par-threes playing over 200m, so I’m glad that I didn’t drop that many shots. But I am glad I didn’t disappoint my friends who came to watch me play this week and I hope my form can last the challenge, “added Nazri who finished 21st on the burgeoning Tour’s Order of Merit last year.
The Kelantan Classic is the third stop of the domestic circuit in 2012 and has attracted a total of 68 players.
Leading first round scores
66 – Mohd Nazri Mohd Zain
68 – Sofian Kepli, Akhmal Tarmizee
69 – Sukree Othman, Dinata Abdillah
70 – S. Murthy, Hanafiah Jamil, Kalana Ibrahim
71 – Md Rashid Ismail, Anis Helmi Hassan 36-35, Redzuan Kamaruddin, Airil Rizman Zahari, Lam Yu Shuen