Rookie Afif rises to occasion

Muhd Afif Mohd Fathi ©Mike Casper & Masuti Ali|The ClubHouse

Kajang [SELANGOR]: Rookie Muhd Afif Mohd Fathi was not interested to plod around uncompetitively and just make up the numbers in his senior debut at the 28th Asia-Pacific Amateur Golf Team Championship for the Nomura Cup.

The reigning national junior champion took the bulls by the horns, firing an opening four-under 68 to help Malaysia get off to an encouraging start at the Sungai Long Golf & Country Club on Thursday.

Coming off the blocks strongly, Muhd Afif Mohd Razif eagled the par-five second before adding two further birdies to make the turn on four-under. But the Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) undergraduate let it slip with back-to-back bogeys at the end to settle for a two-under 70.

Young Rhaasrikanesh Kanavathi carded a battling 73 – his one-over effort counting towards Malaysia’s five-under 211 team score – which leaves them in a share of seventh alongside Nomura Cup specialists Australia.

Regional powerhouse Thailand and New Zealand are seven strokes clear in the lead after recording matching 12-under 204 overalls.

South East Asia (SEA) Games bronze medallist Kammalas Namuangruk led the way for the War Elephants with a blistering eight-under 64 while New Zealand talisman Daniel Hillier returned with a splendid five-under 67.

ย 28th Asia-Pacific Amateur Golf Team Championship – First round standings
204 – ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ญ Thailand, ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ New Zealand
206 – ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ผ Chinese Taipei
207 – ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท Republic of Korea
209 – ๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต Japan
210 – ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Indonesia
211 – ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡พ MALAYSIA, ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ Australia
213 – ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ China, ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ญ Philippines
214 – ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Singapore
215 – ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ India
216 – ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
218 – ๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Hong Kong
226 – ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฐ Pakistan
234 – ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ต Nepal
236 – ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฏ Fiji
238 – ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡บ Guam
244 – ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ช United Arab Emirates, ๐Ÿ‡ถ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Qatar
247 – ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ญ Bahrain
254 – ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ณ Mongolia
273 – ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Kyrgyzstan

Afif struck four birdies in a flawless display, including a run of three consecutive birdies at the start of his back nine.

“Overall, I was satisfied with how my game turned up on the second nine. I was struggling a little bit with my approach shots on the front nine, which didn’t leave with much makeable birdie opportunities.

“At the turn, I told myself that I shouldn’t be afraid of going for it – this is a big event after all and I can’t be over-awed by the occasion. Fortunately, I got a birdie on the 10th to get my rhythm. I missed the green on the 11th but managed to hole a 15-footer from the apron and added another good birdie on 12 after a delicate chip,” said the 17-year-old, who has just completed his O-Levels.

The youngster, who has honed his game on the burgeoning Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour, is ready to help Malaysia achieve their top-10 target at the championship.

“You got to take your chances when they come your way. I missed out on theย Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in August and the Putra Cup (menโ€™s South-East Asian Team Championships) in September due to school and other commitments. This week, my goal is to contribute a good number to the team’s daily score. Not just me – if all of us can do that, there’s no reason why we can’t maintain a top-ten finish,” he added.

Skipper Chan Tuck Soon, who is making his second appearance in the biennial meet, will look to bounce back after an opening 74.