Sungai Buloh [SELANGOR]: Sukree Othman fired a flawless five-under 67 to share the opening round lead with Akmal Tarmizee Nazari at the PGA Championship of Malaysia on Thursday.
Sukree drained five birdies, including a chip-in on the 14th hole to set the early pace at the RM200,000 championship, which is making its return to the domestic professional schedule after a seven-year absence.
Former national Akhmal dropped the only shot of his round on the second hole before an eagle on the third and four further birdies pulled him alongside Sukree at Kelab Rahman Putra Malaysia.
Kemarol Baharin trailed the pair by a single stroke while the trio of Iylia Jamil, Shaaban Hussin and 2002 champion Airil Rizman Zahari returned with matching 69s to lie two shots off the pace.
Malaysia’s top amateur Low Khai Jei, who is playing on an invite, shot a round of even-par 72 to tie for 10th alongside three others.
Despite the soggy conditions, Sukree was in his elements, hitting greens consistently and giving himself makeable birdie chances.
“Really pleased with the effort even though I was very conservative in my game plan. You couldn’t really attack in the soft conditions but to come back without a bogey despite losing two balls in quite admirable,” said Sukree, who has five domestic professional titles to his belt.
“There are many seasoned winners in the field this week and it’s going to be real test in these conditions. But it would a real honour to win our own PGA Championship, given that this is my first start in this tournament,” added the 39-year-old, who turned professional in 2007.
Akhmal made the turn on 34 before three birdies in a four-hole stretch from the 12th to leave him at the top of the leaderboard.
“I bounced back from the bogey on the second quite quickly with the eagle but it still took me a while to settle in. I got into a bit of rhythm after the halfway turn and was rewarded with three birdies, which leaves me in a good position,” he noted.
The PGA Championship of Malaysia is presented with the support of Kelab Rahman Putra Malaysia, PinHigh, Malindo Air, Spritzer with The ClubHouse as the official media partner.
Leading first round scores (Par-72)
Professionals unless indicated
67 – Sukree Othman, Akhmal Tarmizee Nazari
68 – Kemarol Baharin
69 – Iylia Jamil, Airil Rizman, Shaaban Hussin
70 – Mohd Rizal Amin, Kenneth Tobuse
71 – Muhd Al-Warith Damian
72 – Low Khai Jei (A), Chan Soo Keong, Shaifubari Muda, Jeremiah Kim Leun Kwang, Kenneth De Silva