Fung, Lim stay the best locals

Lim Eng Seng © Khalid Redza/Asian Tour

Shah Alam: Nicholas Fung struggled with fatigue en-route to an level-par 72 to emerge as the leading domestic challenger alongside Lim Eng Seng in the third round of the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters on Friday.

Fung rode on a hot putter where he shot four birdies and one bogey on the front nine but could not keep the momentum going as he dropped a double bogey and bogey on holes 11 and 17 respectively at the Kota Permai Golf and Country Club.

The young Sabahan and Lim totalled two-under-par 214 for tied 37th place while Danny Chia was a further shot back with amateur player Abel Tam, who continued to impress, at the RM1.2 million (approximately US$395,000) Asian Tour event.  National player Low Khai Jei (72) and Airil Rizman Zahari (73) respectively while Shaaban Hussin returned with a 74.

“I felt tired on the second nine. I doubled the 11th hole, which is the easiest hole! I hit my tee shot into the jungle and dropped two shots,” said Fung.

He lamented his poor approach shots as he struggled to score on the tricky and fast Kota Permai greens. “I need to work on my ball striking. I’m going to the driving range after this to practise. You need good irons here for a good score. Hopefully I can get it hot on the last day,” he said.

Chia showed glimpse of brilliance with a new swing change when he shot three straight birdies at the turn but dropped three shots in his closing four holes.  “I think my golf swing is pretty much a ‘touch-and-go’. I’ve had some good shots and some bad ones this week. I did some small changes in the last one month and it seems to be working but I need a little bit more time to feel comfortable with it,” said Chia.

While he was coy to comment on the subject of local players failing to make an impact at the tournament, Chia said more Malaysians should ply their trade outside of their comfort zones to gain more experience. “I think there’s still a lot of room for them to improve. It is always good to have a lot of tournaments but it is good for them to come out and play. I don’t think you will have a big improvement if you keep playing at home,” he added.

After an highly nerve-wrecking round yesterday, Tam was satisfied with his third round effort of one-under-par 71. ” I just went out there this morning and told myself to enjoy the experience. I had pretty much settled down after the highs of yesterday [when he won a new ride after nailing a hole-in-one en-route to making the halfway cut] and  advancing into the final two rounds is a success in its self,” said the 20-year-old, who is playing in his third Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters.

“I started off shaky, hit a few wayward drives but as the round progressed, I was striking the ball really well but I couldn’t hole some crucial putts. I’m not upset with my round but I nonetheless feel that I could have done better,” he added.

“For me, it was not so much about the thrill of making the cut but rather breaking through the fear barrier and strengthening my self-belief. This experience [earning his first Asian Tour cut] will serve me well in the future because I now know how to get it done. I’m not going feel as nervous as I was yesterday,” shared Tam.

Low, who finished fourth at the British Junior Open in July, is fast establishing himself as a star for the future. “It feels great to be playing in an Asian Tour event. I learned a lot from playing with the professionals. It is very important for me to handle the pressure. It is not easy when you play with these guys,” said Low, who shot four birdies against as many bogeys.