Kuala Lumpur: Kelly Tan lived up to her top billing with a classy four-under 67 to take opening round lead at the 30th Malaysian Ladies Amateur Open on Tuesday.
The Malaysian number one stamped an early mark on the championship, trading eight birdies against four bogeys to take a two-shot advantage over Cyna Rodriquez (69) of the Philippines at the challenging East Course of Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club.
Reigning Filipino national junior champion Princess Mary Superal and compatriot Pauline del Rosario took a share of third with one-under 70s, ahead of national amateur and 2009 champion Michelle Koh (71). Thailand’s Parinda Phokan and Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras were tied fifth with matching 72s.
Kelly, the highest ranked player in the field this week, put herself in a good position to reclaim the title she lost at last year’s championship to Whitney Hillier of Australia. “It is a positive start. Last year, I was tied for the opening lead with a three-under 69, so to have a two-shot advantage going into tomorrow’s second round is much better,” shared the 2011 champion.
“Eight birdies in any round is pretty good but I need to get my tempo off the tees right because the rough is quite long and proving penal, so it pays to be on the fairways,” said Kelly, who opened her round with a 30-foot birdie, only to bogey the second.
She then put together a run of three birdies through sixth, seventh and eighth before dropping another shot on the ninth. The back nine saw her gain a further two shots with four birdies sandwiching bogeys on 14th and 16th.
“I had a pretty mixed game as I struggled with my up-and-downs but I am pleased that I did not concede too many shots. I still feel that I can go lower but need to give myself more chances by increasing the number of fairways hit,” added the 19-year-old from Johor.
Leading a strong Pinoy challenge is Cyna, who credited her putting for moving up the leaderboard. “The greens held up well today and I took advantage with some good putting but missed some shots in the hazard, which cost me a chance to be in the lead,” said the 21-year-old Manila native.
“I might change a few things tomorrow because my course management was not really great today. I hope keep putting well because that it really Hope I keep putting well because you don’t have to be along hitter to do well on this golf course but you have to make your shots counts.”
Leading first round scores (Division 1)
67 – Kelly Tan (MAS)
69 – Cyna Rodriquez (PHI)
70 – Princess Mary Superal (PHI), Pauline Del Rosario (PHI)
71 – Michelle Koh (MAS)
72 – Parinda Phokan (THA), Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras (THA)
73 – Suthavee Chanachai (THA), Ashley Ona (AUS), Koh Sock Hwee (SIN), Genevieve Ling I-Rynn (MAS)