Daniel in the driving seat

Daniel Hj Sidek ©Arep Kulal/100Plus
Daniel Hj Sidek ©Arep Kulal/100Plus

Subang: Daniel Mohd Sidek recovered from a bad start to take the opening round lead at the 100PLUS Malaysian Junior Open on Wednesday.

The 16-year-old from Selangor carded a one-over 73 at the Garden Course of Glenmarie Golf & Country Club to top the leaderboard by a single stroke, ahead of compatriot and reigning Malaysian Games (SUKMA) champion Albright Chong. Tied on third were the pair of Anselm Gan and Amir Nazrin Jailani, who returned with matching 75s.

A double bogey on the first hole was Daniel’s only undoing as he steadied himself with a flawless back nine display to take the early advantage. “I felt good when I started in the morning even though I did not begin well. But I recovered from that and with the green being neither slow nor fast for me, I thought that I had a great day,” he noted.

Albright, who is hoping to secure a place in the Malaysian squad for the Myanmar SEA Games with a win this week,  admitted that dropped shots at the end of his round proved costly mistakes.

“I did not putt as well as I should and it was definitely beyond my putting average. I could have done better had it not been for the bogeys on 17th and 18th, which means that I much to improve tomorrow,” shared the national back-up player.

Reigning champion Low Khai Jei is not competing in the tournament as he elected to represent the country at the 26th  Asian Amateur Golf Team Championship for the Nomura Cup in Chiangrai this week.

In the girls’ division, Thailand’s Budsabakorn Sukaphan blasted a five-under 67 to sound an early warning to Princess Mary Superal of the Philippines, who opened her title defence with an opening 68. Domestic challenger Kelie Kan Kah Yan was third on 71.

Budsabakorn never looked back after a gain on the second hole, nailing four further birdies on the 11th, 12th, 15th and 18th in a otherwise flawless display.

“The green here was not as fast as at my previous tournament (the Thailand Ladies Open at the Siam Country Club) and I really felt good even though this was my first time playing at this course,” said the 16-year-old Bangkok native.

“I’m confident that I can still maintain my scores for the next two days where the challenge will obviously come from Princess. It will be close between the both of us for sure as it was the last time. The important thing is not to get distracted and just focus on my game,” said Budsabakorn, won beat Princess in a play-off to emerge triumphant at the Singha Thailand Amateur Open in October.

Leading first round scores (Malaysian unless stated)
73 – Danial Haji Mohd Sidek
74 – Albright Chong Ming Soon
75 – Anselm Gan, Amir Nazrin Jailani
76 – Kiishaan Tharmalingam, Suzairi Iqmah, Leon Philip D’Souza (HKG)
77 – Khavish Varman Varadan, Kim Tae Woo, Suradit Yongchareonchai (THA), Sheikh Abdul Razak Abdul Rawof, Mohd Danial Fidz

67 – Budsabakorn Sukapan (THA)
68 – Princess Mary Superal (PHI)
71 – Kelie Kan Kah Yan
72 – Loy Hee Ying
75 – Li Kai Wing (HKG), Nur Durriyah Damian
76 – Nur Eliana Arrifin
78 – Mikhaela Fortuna (PHI), Natasha Andrea Oon, Sofia Chabon (PHI)