Filipino Hong seizes halfway Kuching lead

Charles Hong

Kuching: Charles Hong of the Philippines charged into contention at the PGM Sarawak Masters with a second round score of three-under-par 69 on Friday.

Hong held a one-shot over Singaporean rising star Choo Tze Huang, who shot a 70 at the RM180,000 (approximately US$60,000) Asian Development Tour (ADT) event.

Overnight leader George Gandranata of Indonesia posted a 75 for a share of third place with Go Nakauchi (72) of Japan and domestic duo Jeremiah Kim (72) and Akhmal Tarmizee (73) at the Sarawak Golf Club.

Hong, who is a licensed civil engineer, got off to a hot start as he was five-under for the day before dropping late bogeys on holes 16 and 17 to settle for a two-day total of four-under-par 140.

“I wasn’t thinking about the score too much because I was trailing by three shots at the start of the day. The birdies kept coming and even though I finished with two bogeys, I’m still happy with my round,” said the 24-year-old.

“The course isn’t that long and there’s not a lot of trouble but the pins and greens are very tricky here so you need to stay patient,” he added.

Hong had never plan to play golf professionally but decided to try his luck in the play-for-pay ranks after going through a golf training programme sponsored by ICTSI in the Philippines. His decision to turn professional was rewarded with a first career victory in a local event last month and he is now in the running of securing a dream win on the ADT.

“I never thought of turning professional but after I graduated and passed my civil engineering exam, I told myself that I have nothing to lose and I can to be a professional golfer. I’ve never had the experience of playing for my national team as an amateur so the ADT really helps me get an idea of what professional golf is all about,” said Hong.

“Winning last month has boosted my confidence and if I do win here, it proves that it (win in the Philippines) wasn’t a fluke and it shows that I’m able to contend on an international level.”

The halfway cut was set at nine-over-par 153 with a total of 60 players making the weekend rounds.

Leading second round scores
140 – Charles Hong (PHI) 71-69
141 – Choo Tze Huang (SIN) 71-70
143 – Akhmal Tarmizee 70-73, Jeremiah Kim 71-72, Go Nakauchi (JPN) 71-72, George Gandranata (INA) 68-75
144 – James Lam (PHI) 70-74, Airil Rizman Zahari 71-73, S. Sivachandhran 72-72; 145 – Michael Moore (AUS) 71-74, Dinata Abdillah 73-72