Puchong [SELANGOR]: Seeking his first win on the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour in almost a year, Shaaban Hussin blitzed the fairways of Kinrara Golf Club tract to open up a solid advantage at the I&P Group Championship on Wednesday.
The 35-year-old former national from Kedah fired a flawless eight-under-par 63 to lead the RM180,000 tournament by three strokes. There was a three-way tie for second spot with reigning Order of Merit champion Airil Rizman Zahari, Sukree Othman and Lim Eng Seng all firing matching 66s.
M. Sasidaran, who shown flashes of good form recently as he searches for an elusive triumph on Tour, was fifth with a 67, ahead of Khor Kheng Hwai and R. Nachimuthu were another shot back.
Four consecutive birdies through seventh saw Shaaban make the turn with a brilliant 31 before he added two further birdies in between an eagle on 11th to enjoy a deserved lead on a low scoring day.
“I hit the ball well today,” he said afterwards. “But it was my putting that really helped me go low,” shared the three-time Tour winner.
“The course is not playing that long, so if your short irons are good into the greens, as mine were today, they will give many chances at birdie. And what made the difference was that my putting was good too,” added Shaaban, who cautiously pointed out that his power play has been restricted by a recurring shoulder injury.
Leading first round scores >
63 – Shaaban Hussin
66 – Airil Rizman Zahari, Sukree Othman, Lim Eng Seng
67 – M. Sasidaran
68 – Khor Kheng Hwai, R. Nachimuthu
69 – Nicholas Fung, Kemarol Baharin, Jeremiah Kim Leun Kwang, Muhd Alwarith Damian
70 – S. Sivachandhran, Low Khai Jei (A), Kenneth De Silva, Akhmal Tarmizee Nazari, Nazarudin Talib