Rawang [SELANGOR]: Local hope Kemarol Baharin trailed newcomer Doohwan Bang of Korea by one stroke after the opening round of the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) UMW Championship on Wednesday.
Bang, playing in only his second Asian Development Tour (ADT) event, fired one eagle and five birdies against two bogeys for a five-under-par 67 at the Templer Park Country Club.
A three-time winner on the flourishing domestic circuit, Kemarol returned with five birdies against a lone bogey to take a share of second alongside England’s Simon Griffiths, American Baxter Reeves and ADT winner Panuwat Muenlek of Thailand.
A host of nine players, including Asian Tour Qualifying School graduates Jose Rolz of Guatemala, American duo Samuel Chien and Nicolas Paez, shared sixth place after returning with matching rounds of 69 at the RM200,000 (approximately US$46,600) ADT event.
Local amateur Ervin Chang, who will be teeing up in the lucrative Maybank Championship Malaysia in a fortnight’s time, and John Michael O’Toole, cousin of the reigning ADT Order of Merit champion Casey, are also among those bunched in sixth place at the PGM UMW Championship, which is the third stop of the ADT schedule this season.
Kemarol, chasing for a maiden win on the region’s burgeoning Tour, credited his hot iron-play as he hit 16 greens in regulation.
“I’m hitting the ball good. I managed my shots very well today. My approach shots were good too as I managed to hit it really close to the pins,” said the 30-year-old Malaysian.
Having enjoyed a seventh-place finish in Sabah last month, Kemarol hopes to ride on his recent run of good form to secure a breakthrough victory this week.
“The course is in a great condition. The game’s in good shape. I will continue to do what I have been doing and hopefully this week can be my week,” he added.
Leading first round scores (Par-72) >
Malaysian unless stated
67 – Doohwan Bang (KOR)
68 – Kemarol Baharin, Simon Griffiths (ENG), Panuwat Muenlek (THA), Baxter Reeves (USA)
69 – Sorachut Hansapiban (THA), Jay Bayron (PHI), Samuel Chien (USA), Shane Smith (USA), Ervin Chang (Am), Sukree Othman, Jose Rolz (GTM), Nicolas Paez (USA), John Michael O’Toole (USA)