Leong makes early charge at Impian

Ben Leong ©Arep Kulal|PGM
Ben Leong ©Arep Kulal|PGM

Kajang [SELANGOR]: Malaysian Ben Leong fired a five-under-par to share the opening round lead at the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) UMW Impian Championship on Wednesday.

Two-time Asian Development Tour (ADT) winner Sattaya Supupramai of Thailand traded seven birdies against two bogeys to match the efforts of Leong, who got off to a strong start from the 10th hole where he nailed four birdies to turn in 32 at the Impian Golf and Country Club.

The leading duo held a one-shot advantage over a host of five players, including local prospect Khor Kheng Hwai, Thai duo Annop Tangkamolprasert and Pasamet Pogamnerd, who settled for third place at the RM200,000 (approximately US$60,000) ADT event.

Order of Merit leader Pavit Tangkamolprasert of Thailand signed for a 70 to stay five shots off the pace in tied-25th place at the penultimate tournament of the 2014 ADT season.

Despite dropping a shot on his opening hole (10th), Sattaya remained composed as he recovered with three birdies to turn in 34 before adding four more birdies against a lone bogey on his way home.

“I just played shot by shot out there. I felt very confident about my game. It was good to be back home in Thailand last week. I felt recharged coming into the tournament this week,” said the 30-year-old Thai, who sits in fifth position on the Order of Merit.

“I know I would have to try and stay within top-five on the merit rankings to secure an Asian Tour card for 2015 but I don’t want to think about that right now. I just want to focus on my game this week and we will see how it goes,” added Sattaya, who claimed his second ADT title in September.

Leong, a one-time Asian Tour winner but not since 2008, is excited about his prospects this week after grabbing a share of the opening round.

“I didn’t hit the ball really well but I guess I managed to do the right things out there. I’m happy with my round today as I haven’t been in contention for a while now,” said the 28-year-old Sabahan.

“The rain delay actually helped my game today. It gave me time to relax, slowed me down and I was able to rehydrate myself before resuming the round,” added Leong.

Leading first round scores:
67 – Sattaya Supuramai (THA), Ben Leong
68 – Kemarol Baharin, Annop Tangkamolprasert (THA), Pasamet Pogamnerd (THA), Khor Kheng Hwai, Casey O’Toole (USA)
69 – Kenneth De Silva, Airil Rizman Zahari, Mohd Amli Mohiyadeen
70 – Zurie Harun, Abel Tam, Somsak Kaopratum (THA), R. Nachimuthu, Grant Jackson (ENG), Wolmer Murillo (VEN), Pijit Pechkasem (THA), Al-Malik Faisal