Fung shines with opening 67

Nicholas Fung ©Khalid Redza|Asian Tour
Nicholas Fung ©Khalid Redza|Asian Tour

Jakarta (Indonesia): Nicholas Fung continued his dazzling form by taking a share of the first round lead with Korean-American Anthony Kang with an opening five-under-par 67 at the US$750,000 CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters on Thursday.

Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat, a three-time Asian Tour winner, signed for a 68 to take a share of third place with defending champion Bernd Wiesberger of Austria, Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond, India’s Sujjan Singh as well as Australia’s Jake Higginbottom and Cameron Smith who graduated from Qualifying School earlier this year.

Continued his return from lengthy layoff, Danny Chia was amongst eight players three shots off the lead.

Reigning national number one Fung is putting his experience of playing against the world’s best players to good use at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club.

“It’s nice to see my name on the leaderboard. I made the cut in Malaysia for the first time last week and that gave me a huge confidence boost.

“Of course, the experience from EurAsia Cup has helped me as well. Playing with Jamie Donaldson and Graeme McDowell and Miguel Angel Jimenez at the EurAsia Cup has taught me a lot. I’ve learned to be patient with my game, try to calm down and always stay positive,” said Fung.

The Malaysian held his own and emerged as the best player in the morning’s marquee group which included 2013 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion Kiradech Aphibarnrat (71) of Thailand and Major winner Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa (72).

“It’s great playing with Asian Tour Order of Merit winner, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Louis Oosthuizen. I started very well today when I was three-under after five holes. It was all good for me out there today and I’m feeling very confident,” said Fung.

Evergreen Kang, who does not look a day older than his 41 years of age, sprung a big surprise when he made his presence felt atop the leaderboard. Kang’s last victory on the region’s premier Tour dates back to 2009 when he won his third title in Malaysia.

While he may not be at the peak of his career today, Kang is happy he can still put up a good showing at the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters.

“I surprised even myself with such a good score. You know, I’m getting old and I’m just enjoying my time on the golf course nowadays.

But today’s score shows that I still have the talent to play good golf. It’s a positive start and hopefully I can continue to play that way I did today,” said Kang.

Leading first round scores
67 – Nicholas Fung, Anthony Kang (USA)
68 – Chapchai Nirat (THA), Cameron Smith (AUS), Jazz Janewattananond (THA), Bernd Wiesberger (AUT), Jake Higginbottom (AUS), Sujjan Singh (IND)
69 – Wang Jeung-hun (KOR), Richard T. Lee (CAN), Marcus Both (AUS), Danny Chia (MAS), Lee Tae-hee (KOR), Chan Kim (USA), Adilson Da Silva (BRA), Wolmer Murillo (VEN)