Bangi [SELANGOR]: National player Muhd Afif Fathi relied heavily on local knowledge as he took the opening-round lead at the 47th Selangor Amateur Open on Friday.
Having honed his skills at the Danau Golf Club since his junior days, the 18-year-old University of Toledo freshman opened his account with a one-under 71.
He leads by a single shot from Singapore’s Low Wee Jin and 2018 national amateur champion Muhd Ikhmal Basry.
Past champion Galven Kendall Green, who won in 2017, and Nicklaus Chiam of Singapore, were joint third with identical 74s.
Afif traded three birdies against two bogeys on a day when Danau’s notoriously fast, turtleback greens proved punishing for much of the 118-player field.
“Very happy with the round other than two three-putts on the first and 18th. Being a member here, I’m used to putting on these greens, so maybe that was a slight advantage over the rest. My ball-striking was a little suspect today, but I think my putter more than made up for it,” said Afif.
In the women’s division, 14-year-old junior Foong Zi Yu sprung a surprise when she took a share of the first-round lead alongside established amateur Winnie Ng.
Both players returned with matching 74s to sit a stroke clear of Yip Sean Yi.
“I struggled with my short game early in the round but managed a lucky eagle on the 15th, which gave me a lot of confidence. My putting held up today and kept me in the game. Hopefully, I can keep the rhythm going and try to minimalize my mistakes because it can prove penal here,” noted Zi Yu.
Winnie, on the other hand, hopes to build on a third placing at the recent Malaysian Amateur Open, as she continues her strong return to competitive golf after sitting for her GCSE examinations.
“I am happy with the round – I would take it any day! I wasn’t able to convert many birdies today, but considering how tough it was, the par saves were just as valuable. I’d probably stick to my conservative game plan this week but need to hit the right landing areas and make chances count,” said the 2016 Selangor Amateur Open champion.
Sanctioned by the Malaysian Golf Association, the prestigious World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) championship is supported by Tourism Selangor, in a bid to showcase the state of Selangor Darul Ehsan as the leading golf tourism destination in Malaysia.
LEADING FIRST ROUND SCORES (PAR-72)
Malaysian unless stated
71 – Muhd Afif Fathi
72 – Muhd Ikhmal Basry, Low Wee Jin (SGP)
74 – Galven Kendall Green, Nicklaus Chiam (SGP)
75 – Zia Izzuddeen Abd Rashid, Mitchell Varley (AUS), Bryan Tan Wei Han
76 – Rhaasrikanesh Kanavathi, Tee Jia Jin, Jacky Tan Jin Hong
74 – Foong Zi Yu, Winnie Ng
75 – Yip Sean Yi
76 – Liyana Durisic, Allycia Gan Pheik Wen, Linna Loh (SGP), Audrey Tan
77 – Siti Zulaikhaa Shaari
78 – Amalia Shahzan
80 – Natasha Andrea Oon