Kuching: Seasoned hand R. Nachimuthu set the stage alight when he grabbed the clubhouse lead with an opening seven-under-par 65 at the weather disrupted Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) MNRB Sarawak Masters on Thursday.
Players who teed off in the morning session completed their opening rounds while 45 players will return on Friday morning to complete their remaining holes.
Nachimuthu, who secured two top-five finishes on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) this season, stole the limelight from compatriot Nicholas Fung, who finished the day one back of the leader at the RM200,000 (approximately US$65,000) ADT event.
Another local hope Hans Jamil showed his growing potential by staying a further shot back for third place while Jack Munro of Australia was fourth after a 68 at the Sarawak Golf Club.
A group of five other players shared fifth place on matching 70s while title holder Kenneth De Silva of Malaysia and current ADT Order of Merit leader, American James Bowen posted a 73 and 72 respectively.
Nachimuthu, winner of the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour’s Order of Merit in 2011, said: “The course was kind of soggy today because of the rain but overall, it’s in a pretty good condition. I am really pleased with how I played. Hopefully I can keep it up.”
“You have to hit as many fairways as you can to score well on this course. I’m hitting the ball much better now,” added the 42-year-old, who fired eight birdies against a lone bogey.
Fung, who is currently the best-ranked Malaysian on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) and third on the ADT Order of Merit, credited his recent run of good form for his strong start.
“I’m feeling really good about my game. I was not feeling well at the beginning of the week but I am much better now. I am looking forward to the next few rounds. Hopefully, I can maintain my form and secure another win,” said the confident Sabahan, who claimed his third victory on the local circuit last week.
Apart from winning, Fung will also be looking to cement his position on the OWGR before the cut-off date on October 7 to secure a spot at the lucrative CIMB Classic later this month as the highest ranked Malaysian in the world.
Leading first round scores (morning session):
65 – R. Nachimuthu
66 – Nicholas Fung
67 – Hans Jamil
68 – Jack Munro (AUS)
70 – Philip Matsson (THA), Koh Deng Shan (SIN), Masaru Takahashi (JPN), Michael Tran (VIE), Jeremiah Kim
71 – Faridil Atras, M. Sasidaran, Choo Tze Huang (SIN)
72 – Pasavee Lertvilai (THA), Mohd Iylia Jamil, James Bowen (USA), Man O Im (USA), Nicholas Pua, Chien Tan, Lee Cho-chuan (TWN)