Trio lead Malaysian Open national qualifier

Marcus Low Khai Loon © GlobalOne

Kuala Lumpur: Mohd Nazri Mohd Zain, Marcus Low Khai Loon and Mohd Rizal Mohd Amin took a share of the lead after the opening round of the Maybank Malaysian Open National Qualifier at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club.

The trio carded a round of even-par 72 to lead the chasing pack of Jeremiah Kim, Wilson Choo and Zurie Harun by one stroke in tough scoring conditions at the West Course. The pair of Tommy Chin and youngster Ali Reza Khairudin were a further shot behind on two-over 74 while the quartet of Khor Kheng Hwai, C.M. Chong, Mohd Rizal Amin and Maybank Malaysian Open veteran M. Ramayah were joint-ninth after an opening 75.

With five coveted spots at the Maybank Malaysian Open up for grabs, there was much on the line for the 51 domestic hopefuls, who turned up for the two-day qualifying tournament.

With his younger brother Khai Jei already earning an amateur start in US$2.5 million co-sanctioned tournament, Low is confident of joining his brother with a top-five finish tomorrow. “The key point of doing well on this course is to be calm and patient. I told myself to better manage the course and not be overtly aggressive and just play my game of hitting fairways and greens in regulation. It worked well today, so there’s no point of changing anything for tomorrow.

“We would like to create history as the first local siblings to play in the same Maybank Malaysian Open. That would be quite an experience,” shared the 21-year-old, referring to the famous Italian Molinari brothers.

Kelantan native Mohd Nazri credited his putting for his strong opening performance. “I thank God for the good performance considering the challenges that awaited us today. The course was really difficult and thankfully my caddie was really apt at reading the lines and I holed my share of putts,” said the 28-year old, who matched four birdies with as many bogeys.

“It feels great to be ahead of the rest after the opening round. It gives me that added motivation to play better tomorrow and hopefully, qualify for my maiden Maybank Malaysian Open,” added Nazri, who missed out on the opportunity last year when he was eliminated in a playoff for the final berth during the National Qualifier.

The burly Mohd Rizal Amin said, “I’m pleasantly surprised with my performance and I didn’t think that my score of 72 would have been enough to be in the lead but I’m going to take this result as something positive and improve on it tomorrow.”

The five qualifiers will join the top-ranked Malaysian in the field, Danny Chia, who qualifies automatically by virtue of being placed in the top-65 of the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit as well as Maybank invitees Shaaban Hussin and Nicholas Fung.

PGM Tour 2011 Order of Merit winner R. Nachimuthu heads the list of GlobalOne invites which includes Md Rashid Ismail, M. Sasidaran, S. Murthy and Airil Rizman while Sukree Othman, S. Sivachandhran and Ben Leong will also tee-off at the tournament on invites by the Malaysian Golf Association (MGA).

The MGA also announced on February 23 that four national amateurs – Chan Tuck Soon, Low Khai Jei, Muhammad Arie Irawan Ahmad Fauzi and Muhammad Afif Mohd Razif will tee-off the tournaments with two others to be confirmed in due course.

Leading first round scores
72 – Mohd Nazri Mohd Zain, Marcus Low Khai Loon, Mohamed Rizal Mohamad Amin
73 – Jeremiah Kim, Wilson Choo, Zurie Harun
74 – Tommy Chin, Ali Reza Khairudin
75 – Khor Kheng Hwai, CM Chong, Mohd Rizam Ali, M. Ramayah
76 – Kenneth De Silva, Shaifubari Muda
77 – Hilmi Abd Rahman, Mohd Rusli Johari, Lim Eng Seng, Redzuan Che Kamarudin, Haziq Hamizan, Mohd Hanafiah Jamil

Full scores (in pdf)