Miri: Hsu Mong-nan of Chinese Taipei produced a solid back nine to lead in the opening round of the PGM Eastwood Valley Masters with a flawless six-under-par 66 on Wednesday.
Hsu birdied five holes on his homeward nine including a 12-foot birdie putt on the last for a one shot lead over Filipino Jay Bayron at the Eastwood Valley Masters, which is the 11th leg of the Asian Development Tour (ADT) season.
Park Jin-woo of Korea, Hirotaro Naito of Japan and local hope Sukree Othman were a further two shots back at the US$80,000 event, which is part of the 30th anniversary celebration of Eastwood Valley’s holding company, Woodman Group.
Hsu, who has been playing on the Asian Tour since 1997, turned in 35 but bounced back on the back nine as he took advantage of his immensely accurate tee shots and hot putter.
“I was driving the ball so good. It gave me a chance to attack the greens, which was nice. I played very well and I’m happy with the result,” said the 38-year-old, who finished second at the Ballantine’s Taiwan Championship on the ADT in August.
Despite the fast start, Hsu is not taking his lead for granted as he is aware of the talented ADT field gathered at the inaugural PGM Eastwood Valley Masters. “There are so many good players here so it won’t be easy to win. I just need to stay patient and hope to continue my form.”
Playing from the 10th tee, Bayron sank a monstrous 25 footer birdie on 15 which led to another four straight birdies. His only blemish of the day came on the second hole which he erased with a birdie on six.
“It was not easy. This is such a difficult golf course. I’m quite lucky to have made some big putts. It was good to get off to a strong start,” said Bayron, currently third on the ADT Order of Merit.
After a poor putting spell in the last few months, the soft-spoken Filipino reverted to an old putter which he hopes will guide him to a third ADT win and also cement his position in the top-three of the Order of Merit.
“I changed between three putters this year because I was putting so badly. In the end, I decided to use my old putter which I’ve been using for the past two years. I guess I’ll have to stick with it now,” he smiled.
Malaysia’s Sukree has won three titles on the local circuit this year and is aiming for a first ADT win after a shooting 69 to trail Hsu by three shots.
“This is my first time playing here. The course is quite long for me but the greens are soft and it gives us a bit of an advantage. I think the ADT is a good step for us to gain entry into the Asian Tour. I have yet to win (on the ADT) but I’m coming closer,” said Sukree.
Leading first round scores
66 – Hsu Mong-nan (TPE)
67 – Jay BAyron (PHI)
69 – Park Jin-Woo (KOR), Sukree Othman, Hirotaro Naito (JPN)
70 – Mhark Fernando (PHI), Jeremiah Kim, Chiang Chen-chih (TPE), Rance De Grussa (AUS) , Iain Steel, R. Nachimuthu
71 – Airil Rizman Zahari
72 – Lindsay Renolds (CAN), Carl Santos-Ocampo (PHI), Spencer Shishido (USA), Mitsuhiko Hashizume (JPN)