Bright start for Fung, Chia in Bangkok

Nicholas Fung © Khalid Redza/WorldSportGroup

Bangkok:  Nicholas Fung and Danny Chia got their campaigns off at the US$1 million Thailand Open to a sizzling start, carding rounds of 66 and 67 respectively on Thursday.

Korea’s Kim Hyung-tae set the early pace with an eight-under-par 64 at Suwan Golf & Country Club but was matched by Japan’s Yasunori Yoshida in the evening session. Past champion Liang Wen-chong stayed within one shot of the leaders with a round of 65 alongside Australia’s Nick Cullen, Chan Shih-chang and David McKenzie.

Fung has been in good form coming into the tournament and kept the momentum going with a bogey-free round. “I hit my irons so well today – I am really pleased,” said the 22-year-old Fung, who was second in the Bii Maybank ADT Challenge in Indonesia last month. I just missed one green and had 28 putts and that was reflected in my score.”

Fung, who is in his third season on OneAsia said that familiarity with the course had helped boost his confidence. “Because of how I played last year, I had a lot of confidence coming into the tournament,” said Fung, who finished tied-24th last year on the back of a closing 65. He placed 62nd on the OneAsia Order of Merit last year with winnings of $26,323 and is looking for a top-50 finish this year to keep his card.

Chia is playing the Thailand Open on an invitation and Malaysia’s leading player was pleased with his opening round despite dropping shots at the ninth and 18th. The highlight of his round came when he eagled the par-fifth second, draining a 40-foot putt.

Chia credited a recent upswing in his form to coaching lessons from Steven Giuliano at The Mines Resort & Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur. “I started seeing him and working on my swing a couple of months ago. I do not feel totally comfortable yet but my shots seem much straighter now, even if I mis-hit them I keep them in play. So far that is the biggest improvement I have in my game,” said Danny.

He noted that he risks being fined by Asian Tour for choosing to participate in the event. “I really want to play as many tournaments as I can to see how my changed swing goes. We make a living from our own individual efforts, that is what being a professional means,” shrugged the seasoned campaigner.