Sungai Buloh: American Paul Harris got off to a flying start when he fired a five-under-par 67 to take the opening round lead at the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) CCM Rahman Putra Championship on Wednesday.
Harris returned with a flawless round highlighted by five birdies to take a one-shot lead over Australian Daniel Bringolf, Lam Zhiqun of Singapore and Asian Development Tour (ADT) champions Pavit Tangkamolprasert of Thailand and Japan’s Mitsuhiko Hashizume, who shared second place on matching 68s at the Kelab Rahman Putra Malaysia.
Local hope Anis Hassan and Khor Kheng Hwai led the home charge with identical 69s to tie in sixth place with Thailand’s Suppakorn Uthaipai, Japan’s Senroku Isa and American Greg Moss, at the RM200,000 (approximately US$65,000) event.
The 23-year-old Harris, who finished tied-17th at the ADT season-opening event in Malaysia two weeks ago, said: “I had a good start today which kept my momentum going. It is not an easy course but my form was good today. Hopefully I can stay consistent in the next few rounds.”
Playing in only his second ADT event since making his debut last month, Harris hailed the burgeoning Tour as a great platform for aspiring golfers to play their way back to the main Asian Tour.
“Iain Steel (of Malaysia) has been encouraging me to come out and play here. I thought I can give it a shot! I’m glad it’s been enjoyable for me so far. I like playing in this part of the world. It’s great that the ADT offers Official World Golf Ranking points as well. My main focus for this season is to play well on the ADT,” said Harris.
Steel regained his playing status on the 2014 Asian Tour after finishing in top three on the final ADT Order of Merit in 2013. This year, the leading top five players on the merit rankings at the end of the season will earn Asian Tour cards for 2015.
Pavit, who claimed his maiden win on the ADT at the 2013 season-ending event in Jakarta in January, is delighted to reproduce some good form again.
“I’m very happy with my performance. I think my game is getting better. This is a challenging course but my ball striking was good today. Hopefully I can keep up with my good form tomorrow,” said the talented 24-year-old.
Despite missing out on his Asian Tour card at the Qualifying School last month, Pavit remained optimistic that he can still strengthen his game by gaining more playing experience on the ADT.
“It’s really a pity for missing the Asian Tour card but I thought I played well that week so I’m not disappointed. Right now, I want to gain more experience on the ADT and try to secure my second win!” added Pavit.
Leading first round scores (Malaysian unless stated):
67 – Paul Harris (USA)
68 – Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA), Daniel Bringolf (AUS), Lam Zhiqun (SIN), Mitsuhiko Hashizume (JPN)
69 – Suppakorn Uthaipat (THA), Senroku Isa (JPN), Khor Kheng Hwai, Greg Moss (USA), Anis Helmi Hassan
70 – David Rose (CAN), Konosuke Nakazato (JPN), Arie Irawan, Brett Munson (USA), Yuzo Ichikawa (JPN), Tenka Terada (JPN), Mohd Iylia Jamil, Ben Leong