Gandranata aces his way to early Sarawak lead

Akhmal Tarmizee was two strokes off the pace ©PGM

Kuching: George Gandranata of Indonesia grabbed the opening round lead at the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Sarawak Masters courtesy of a hole-in-one on Thursday.Gandranata shot a four-under-par 68 for a two-shot lead over local hope Akhmal Tarmizee and James Lam of the Philippines at the RM180,000 (approximately US$60,000) Asian Development Tour (ADT) event.

Locals Airil Rizman, Jeremiah Kim, Kenneth De Silva and Mohd Hafiy were a further shot back in fourth place with Singaporean Choo Tze Huang, Go Nakauchi of Japan, Australian Michael Moore and Charles Hong of the Philippines.

Starting from the 10th tee, Gandranata aced the 188-yard par three eighth hole at the Sarawak Golf Club with a five-iron for his sixth career hole-in-one.

“I’m glad with my score because the greens here are challenging. It’s funny because five of my holes-in-ones came on the eighth hole! Must be my lucky number,” said the 26-year-old, who traded four birdies against two bogeys.

“You have to drive the ball well and get it on the fairway. I knocked my iron shots pretty well and had some close range birdies. I’m glad my score stuck,” added Gandranata.

Gandranata, who graduated with a Masters in economics from the University of Berkeley in California, was delighted with his strong start in what is his eighth ADT appearance.

“This is my first year as a professional golfer and I need a lot of experience. I think the ADT is a good stepping stone for that because you want to be playing under pressure and playing for money,” said the Indonesian, currently in 33rd position on the ADT Order of Merit.

Leading first round scores
68 – George Gandranata (INA)
70 – James Lam (PHI), Akhmal Tarmizee Nazari
71 – Choo Tze Huang (SIN), Kenneth De Silva, Jeremiah Kim, Airil Rizman Zahari, Go Nakauchi (JPN), Michael Moore (AUS), Mohd Hafiy, Charles Hong (PHI)
72 – Mohd Iylia Jamil, Mitsuhiko Hashizume (JPN), Sukree Othman, S. Sivachandhran