Eagles lift Green into halfway lead

Maybank Malaysian Open 2014
Gavin Kyle Green ©Khalid Redza|Asian Tour

Rawang: Top local amateur Gavin Kyle Green made a big impression in his first attempt on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) when he posted an eight-under-par 64 to take the halfway lead at the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Vascory Templer Park Championship on Thursday.

The talented 20-year-old mixed his card with two eagles, six birdies and one double-bogey for a two-day total of 13-under-par 131 to lead by two shots over countryman Shaaban Hussin in the RM250,000 (approximately US$80,000) event.

Shaaban returned with the day’s lowest score of 63 for second while Khor Kheng Hwai, also of Malaysia, settled for third on 135 total at the Templer Park Country Club.

China’s Ye Jian-feng stayed a further two shots back in fourth place after carding a 69 while overnight leader Mathiam Keyser of South Africa, defending champion Nicholas Fung of Malaysia and England’s Jake Shepherd shared fifth after signing for rounds of 72, 70 and 70 respectively.

Green is feeling confident after taking the lead in his first attempt on the ADT. He was in contention in last year’s Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters on the Asian Tour before settling for tied-sixth place.

“My game was more solid today. I hit many more good shots and I kept the ball in place. I made a double on the fifth but was able to recover swiftly with a birdie and an eagle on the next two holes. I am more confident to play well in the last two rounds now,” said Green.

“I’m into my last year of college now. I will only consider turning professional after I complete my studies. Meanwhile I will just try and gain as much experience as I can. Hopefully I can continue to play solid and finish off well on Saturday,” added the young Malaysian, who is currently ranked 23rd on the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR).

Shaaban’s remarkable efforts would have matched the course record if not for the preferred lies ruling which was in play. He was thrilled to shoot his best round in his career.

“I’m feeling very happy and excited now. Everything worked well for me today. This is the lowest score I have shot in a professional event so far. I’m really pleased with how I played,” said Shaaban, who opened his campaign with a 70.

Starting his round from the back nine, the lanky Malaysian reached the turn at four-under 32 after sinking four birdies starting from the 12th before moving on to hole another five on his way home.

“My putting was way better today, as compared to the first round. The greens are very tricky here. I still have two more days to go. I will have to stay focused if I want to play better,” added the 33-year-old Shaaban.

Reigning ADT Order of Merit winner Fung struggled to find his momentum when he started off with nine straight pars from the 10th but managed to cap a flawless round highlighted by two birdies on his way back.

“My neck is feeling much better now but I can’t seem to putt well today. I really need to work on that but overall, I’m happy with how I am hitting the ball,” said the EurAsia Cup star, who was part of Team Asia who secured a dramatic tie with Team Europe after fighting back from an opening round 0-5 whitewash in the Ryder Cup style event earlier in March.

The halfway stage was set at one-over-par 145 with a total of 57 players, including national junior Ervin Chang (72-73), qualifying for the last two rounds.

Leading second round scores (Malaysian unless stated):
131 – Gavin Kyle Green (A) 67-64
133 – Shaaban Hussin 70-63
135 – Khor Kheng Hwai 68-67
137 – Ye Jian-feng (CHN) 68-69
138 – Nicholas Fung 68-70, Mathiam Keyser (RSA) 66-72, Jake Shepherd (ENG) 68-70
139 – Lindsay Renolds (CAN) 72-67, Wisut Artjanawat (THA) 70-69, Jay Bayron (PHI) 71-68, Airil Rizman Zahari 68-71
140 – Ben Leong 68-72, Masaru Takahashi (JPN) 68-72