Fung a shot shy of lead in Samui

Nicholas Fung ©Mike Casper|The ClubHouse [filepix]

KUALA LUMPUR: Nicholas Fung shrugged off the cobwebs to kick-start his Queen’s Cup campaign with a brilliant five-under 66 on Thursday.

Battling a sore throat over the last fortnight, the Malaysian looked well on the road to recovery as a strong iron game propelled him within a shot off the lead in the US$500,000 Asian Tour tournament.

Evergeen Thai star Prayad Marksaeng brilliantly launched his quest for an unprecedented third victory at the Santiburi Samui Country Club tract with a solid six-under-par 65 matched by rookie Chanat Sakulpolphaisan, Filipino Angelo Que and India’s Rashid Khan.

An eagle on the 18th set up Fung’s impressive start as he returned with a flawless back nine of three birdies to sit in a share of fifth alongside Daisuke Kataoka of Japan and Chinese Taipei’s Hung Chien-yao.

“I started well but couldn’t make the putts. Hit it really close with a four iron to about three feet for my eagle on 18. From there, I got some momentum and my confidence just started to come back,” said Fung.

“I’ve been playing bad recently as I’ve been changing my swing. I’ve also been sick for the past 10 days with a really bad sore throat. I didn’t want to think too much about this week and just decided to go out there to play,” he added.

With two top-ten finishes at the Thai holiday isle in recent years, Fung is hoping to regain his feel as he stays in the hunt for his maiden Asian Tour title.

“You need to hit it straight on this course which is an advantage for me as I keep it quite straight. With the swing changes, I can see that my feel is starting to come back and hopefully a win on Tour will also come soon.”

Danny Chia opened his campaign with a 69 while Gavin Kyle Green overcame an errant driver to post a one-under 70. Newly married Ben Leong was one-over for the tournament.