Shah Alam: Local ace Danny Chia overcame a stiff neck to shoot a bogey-free five-under-par 67 to take the opening round lead at the Asian Development Tour (ADT) co-sanctioned Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Northport Glenmarie Masters on Wednesday.
The 40-year-old posted five birdies, four of which came on his homeward nine, for a one-shot lead over an in-form James Bowen of the United States, who won his first ADT title in Sungai Petani a fortnight ago.
Iain Steel and Kenneth De Silva shared third on matching 69s in the RM200,000 (approximately US$65,000) event staged at the Glenmarie Golf and Country Club, ahead of the quintet of Michael Bibat of The Philippines, experienced Taiwanese Chang Tse-peng, S. Murthy, Grant Jackson of the United States and Thai Pavit Tangkamolprasert.
Defending champion Nicholas Fung was stuck mid-table in a tie for 25th after a poor round of one-over 73.
Chia, who won the opening Kinrara leg on the burgeoning domestic circuit earlier in the year, admitted that he was fortunate to return with his score despite pulling a muscle during warm-up.
“I’m quite fortunate to come out with my score. I went to see a doctor after my round and my neck isn’t so stiff now. I am pleased with the way I’ve been playing since the start of the year and the changes I have made to my swing over the last year as resulted in better ball striking,” said Chia
“The golf course is in good condition but the greens are a bit challenging. When you miss on the wrong side of the green, you will have a difficult chance of getting up-and-down,” he added..
Bowen, the current ADT Order of Merit leader, took advantage of a “phenomenal” short game as he launched his bid to notch a unique Malaysian double.
“I hit it all over the place but my putter was just red hot. When I had a birdie putt I made them. My short game was absolutely phenomenal. My confidence is just very high at the moment,” said Bowen.
Leading first round scores
67 – Danny Chia
68 – James Bowen (USA)
69 – Iain Steel, Kenneth De Silva
70 – Michael Bibat (PHI), Chang Tse-peng (TPE), S. Murthy, Grant Jackson (USA), Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA)
71 – George Gandranata (INA), Mitsuhiko Hashizume (JPN), Mohamad Azman Basharuddin, Park Il-hwan (KOR), Mars PUCAY (PHI), Ryan Bulloch (AUS), George Thacker (ENG), Blake McGrogy(AUS), Takuya Yamauchi(JPN)