Kuala Lumpur: National amateur Kelly Tan Guat Chen led the way after the opening round of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia national qualifier on Tuesday.
The 18-year-old posted a round of three-over 74 at the East Course of Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club to seize an early advantage in her pursuit for a third straight appearance at the prestigious US$1.9m LPGA tournament.
Professional Ainil Johani Abu Bakar is in close pursuit with a birdie-less 75 while top-ranked national Aretha Pan Herng and Michelle Koh are a further two shots adrift. Youngster Sarafina Vinota Seretharan carded a round of 78 to take possession of sole fifth.
Only the top two Malaysians at the end of the second and final round tomorrow will earn valuable sponsor exemptions to the tournament proper to be held from October 11-14.
In the regional qualifier, Chinese Taipei Ssu-Chia Cheng opened her campaign with a round of one-over 72 to lead Bruneian Valerie Tan and Tanaporn Kongkiatkrai of Thailand by two strokes.
Leading first round scores – Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia – National Qualifier
74 – Kelly Tan
75 – Ainil Johani Abu Bakar (P)
77 – Aretha Pan Herng, Michelle Koh
78 – Sarfina Vinota Seretharan
79 – Shareen Lai (P)
80 – Diana Tham, Asha Lakshme Balakrishnan
82 – Genevieve Ling I-Rynn, Hilferah Tan, Kelie Kan
85 – Isza Fariza Ismail
Leading first round scores – Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia – Regional Qualifier
72 – Ssu-Chia Cheng (TPE)
74 – Valerie Tan (BRU), Tanaporn Kongkiatkrai (THA)
75 – Tiranan Yoopan (THA), Ajira Nualraksa (THA), Aunchisa Utama (THA)
78 – Chen Min Jou (TPE)
79 – Min Lee (TPE)
80 – Ruangthiwa Pangjan (THA)
86 – Jessica Ang Pei Pei (SIN)