Rashid on song in Seremban

Md Rashid Ismail ©ArepKulal/PGM

Seremban: Titleholder Md Rashid Ismail looked at his best once again after opening with a round of seven-under 65 at the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Negeri Sembilan Classic at Seremban International Golf Club on Thursday.

The 39-year-old, who has struggled with a lower back problem for much of the season, posted a near-flawless round of eight birdies and one bogey to take an early one-shot lead over S. Sivachandhran, who will also fancy his chances at the cowgrass layout having won the 2010 Negeri Sembilan Masters Invitational at the same venue.

Veteran M. Ramayah continued to put his younger professionals in the shade, the 57-year-old registering a flawless to lie sole third, two shots clear of Wilson Choo and Hanafiah Jamil. Burly rookie Azman Basharuddin eagled the par-five sixth en-route to a round of 70 to take share of sixth alongside Lam Yu Shuen and three-time winner this season, Airil Rizman Zahari.

Rashid was hopeful of successfully defending the title and ending his barren run so far this year, “I visited my physio recently for treatment to my lower back problem. I am glad I had a good game today with eight birdies and one bogey. I hope I can keep on like this to be in contention,” said Rashid.

Sivachandhran, who returned to Malaysia last Sunday after playing in the Venetian Macau Open, said,” I started at the 10th and made birdies at the 11th, 12th and 13th and more birdies at the 17th and 18th. I made bogey at hole 5. I only had two birdies and one bogey on the back nine (the front 9 of the course).”

A total of 78 players, including 12 amateurs, are in contention in RM125,000 event, which is the 16th stop on the burgeoning domestic circuit’s 2012 schedule.