Chia in share for Samui lead

Danny Chia ©Asian Tour
Danny Chia ©Asian Tour

Samui (ASIAN TOUR): Japan’s Daisuke Kataoka continued his fine form by firing a flawless six-under-par 65 to grab a share of the first round lead with Finland’s Jaakko Makitalo and Malaysia’s Danny Chia at the THB 9.6 million (approximately US$312,000) Queen’s Cup on Thursday.

Bangladesh’s Siddikur stayed close to the leaders by posting a 66 to trail by one in fourth place while Pariya Junhasavasdikul emerged as the leading Thai after he signed for a 67 to take fifth place at the Santiburi Samui Country Club.

Chia, who holds the distinction of being the first Malaysian winner on the Asian Tour when he won the Taiwan Open back in 2002, traded seven birdies against a lone bogey on the par-four 12th to enjoy an encouraging start as well.

“I’m pleased with how I’ve played especially my putting. My iron play was also consistent and apart from the last hole where I hit the ball into the water, I’m happy with how the day went,” said Chia.

While it has been more than a decade since Chia’s lone victory, the Malaysian believes his next win will come if he continues to remain patient.

“It’s only the first day and I prefer to stay patient. If I see an opportunity, I’ll try to grab it. The putts need to drop more often like today and if they can, it’ll be good,” added the 40-year-old.

Kataoka, who served notice of his talent in Indonesia last month by battling his way into contention against a host of elite players that included Major winner Ernie Els, is confident of notching another impressive result this week.

“I putted really well today. I’m glad that I able to pick up my form from the last event,” said Kataoka, who equalled his best performance on the Asian Tour with his third place finish then.

“I’m happy to be among the leaders and I look forward to the next three days where hopefully, I can remain in contention,” added the Japanese.

After missing the cut in two of his last three events on the Asian Tour, Makitalo breathed new life into his title challenge this week.

“I don’t really think about why I missed the cut, where I missed or how I missed. There’re a million reasons why you can miss a cut but I’ve been practising a lot back home and it has paid off today,” said Makitalo.

It was also a big comeback for the Finn as he made an early exit after rounds of 86 and 80 at the Queen’s Cup last year.

“I came into this week feeling that my game was better than last year. This course can be tough if you don’t find the fairways. I was hitting it extremely well missing only about two fairways and that really helped,” said Makitalo.

Having finished tied-second last year, Siddikur signalled his intention of winning the Queen’s Cup this year by staking his place among the leaders with a flawless 66 which was highlighted by five birdies.

Starting on the back-nine 10th, the Bangladeshi birdied holes 14, 16 and 18 to turn in 32. He continued his birdie blitz with another on the second hole before adding another red number on the par-five sixth.

“I’m happy as this is a good start. I was so close to winning last year and hopefully I’ll not repeat my mistakes again,” said the Bangladeshi.

On a day where much was expected of leading Thai stalwarts Thaworn Wiratchant (73) and Kiradech Aphibarnrat (72), it was Pariya, who led the home charge.

“The winds were not that strong when I teed off in the afternoon and it’s definitely much easier off the tee. I put the ball into many good positions and gave myself lots of opportunities,” said Pariya.

Pariya’s lone victory on the Asian Tour came in Chinese Taipei in 2010 and he is hopeful that the countless hours spent practising will end his three-year title drought on the region’s premier Tour.

“I hope to keep the momentum going. I don’t want to say I’m in good form or in bad form. I’ve been practising enough and hopefully it’ll pay off this week,” said the 28-year-old.

Leading first round scores
65 – Jaakko Makitalo (FIN), Daisuke Kataoka (JPN), Danny Chia (MAS)
66 – Siddikur (BAN)
67 – Pariya Junhasavasdikul (THA)
68 – Elmer Salvador (PHI), Jazz Janewattananond (THA)
69 – Peter Gustafsson (SWE), Hung Chien-yao (TPE), Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA), Thitiphun Chuayprakong (THA), Arnond Vongvanij (THA), Chawalit Plaphol (THA), Martin Rominger (SUI)
70 – David Lutterus (AUS), Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA), Lee Sung (KOR), Pawin Ingkhapradit (THA), Matt Jager (AUS), Grant Jackson (ENG), Gunn Charoenkul (THA), Panuphol Pittayarat (THA), Stephen Lewton (ENG), Hsu Mong-nan (TPE)