Kuala Lumpur: Ahmad Farhan Syariff flew off the blocks with a solid three-under 69 to take a two-shot lead over Wilson Choo after the opening day of the Maybank Malaysian Open National Qualifier on Tuesday.
Trailing closely was Muhd Al-Warith Damian, who notched an even-par 72 while Mohd Rizal Amin and Marcus Low returned with matching 73s to take a share of fourth place.
A further stroke adrift was the pair of Mohd Amli Mohayideen and former nationals S. Sivachandhran and Mohd Iylia Jamil.
The unheralded Farhan, who plies his trade on the domestic Professional Golf of Malaysia, was pleasantly surprised with his day’s work, crediting his accurate drives and excellent putting, which yielded an eagle and six birdies, which he traded off with three bogeys and a double bogey.
“I didn’t have any inkling that I was going to be in the lead when I started this morning, so I’m really surprised!” said the 26-year-old, who started off the 10th hole.
“The West Course is a demanding layout but I birdied my first hole (10th) and that gave the me the confidence to get going. I was two-over after the turn but got into a brilliant run through the second nine, when I managed three birdies and an eagle in succession. At that point, it really began to hit me that I had a golden chance of teeing up at the Maybank Malaysian Open for the first time.”
Choo, who has two domestic professional title to his name: “I’m happy with my performance and I’ll take that score any day on this tract. I got into a lot of trouble today but pulled off one bunker save after another to keep my hopes alive of qualifying for the national Open for the second-year running,” said the Kuala Lumpur native, who mixed two birdies against a single bogey.
Leading first round scores:
69 – Ahmad Farhan Syariff
71 – Wilson Choo
72 – Muhd Al-Warith Damian
73 – Mohd Rizal Amin, Marcus Low Khai Loon
74 – Mohd Amli Mohiyadeen, S. Sivachandhran, Mohd Iylia Jamil
75 – Lim Eng Seng, Hilmi Abdul Rahman
76 – Dino Abdillah, Hans Jamil, Mohd Irfan Yusoff, S. Murthy