Brilliant Arie explodes off the blocks

Sabah Masters 2015Sungai Petani [KEDAH]: Arie Irawan fired a blistering nine-under-par 63 to take the opening round lead at the RM200,000 Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Sime Darby Harvard Championship on Wednesday.

Arie was on man on fire as he set off on an electric pace with six birdies in his outward-nine at the Harvard Golf and Country Club. The 24-year-old continued his charge with four more birdies on holes 11, 13, 14 and 15 but had his card marred by one bogey on the par-four 12.

Rob Seibly of the United States enjoyed a refreshing change of fortunes when he carded a 65 to take second place while Japan’s Terumichi Kakazu lurked closely after a 66 left him in third place at the season-opening ADT event.

Arie, who has nine top-10 finishes on the ADT in 2014, is determined to get that elusive win this week and further boost his stature of one of Malaysia’s finest talents.

“I’ve got some unfinished business to settle on the ADT. I felt I could have won one or two events last year but fell just short. My game is getting much better and I’m improving.

“It’s beginning to show this week. I hope to take advantage of my solid form and do well especially with the world ranking points at stake too,” said Arie, who is second-ranked Malaysian on the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR).

Having missed out on his Asian Tour card at Qualifying School last week, Seibly was pleased with another opportunity to play on the burgeoning secondary circuit.

The American made a quick start with a birdie and an eagle in his opening three holes. He dropped a shot on five before responding with another two birdies on eight and nine.

Seibly surged further ahead with three successive birdies starting from 12 before trading a bogey and birdie on 16 and 17 respectively.

“It’s my first event on the ADT and I’m glad I got off to a good start. I didn’t get make it through the Qualifying School last week but the next alternative for me is to play on the ADT. It has been great so far,” said Seibly,  who turned pro three years ago and is looking to spend the rest of the season here in Southeast Asia.

Seibly knows he will have to acclimate himself to the heat and humidity in the region to continue to stay in contention.

“The weather is really hot and dry which makes it really tough out there but I’m still very happy with how I played today. I’m looking forward to playing better in the next few rounds,” said the 25-year-old American.

Leading first round scores (Malaysian unless stated):
63 – Arie Irawan
65 – Rob Seibly (USA)
66 – Terumichi Kakazu (JPN)
67 – Airil Rizman Zahari, Janne Kaske (FIN)
68 – R. Nachimuthu, Grant Jackson (ENG), Wilson Choo
69 – Oskar ARVIDSSON (SWE), Darren TAN (AUS), Yohei Shinno (JPN) Shaifubari Muda, Khor Kheng Hwai, Danny Chia, Malcolm Kokocinski (SWE), Masaru Takahashi (JPN)