Early Taiping advantage for Ben

Ben Leong ©Arep Kulal|PGM Tour
Ben Leong ©Arep Kulal|PGM Tour

Taiping [PERAK]: Ben Leong seized the first round initiative at the inaugural Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Taiping Championship with a six-under 66 on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old, one of only a trio of Malaysians to have won an Asian Tour event, carded what would have been a new course record at Taiping Golf & Country Club by one stroke  had it not being for preferred lies in operation.

Anis Hassan, M. Sasidaran, Kim Leun Kwang and Lam Yu Shuen shot 68s for a share of second place while Khor Kheng Hwai and Kemarol Baharin were another stroke back in a tie for sixth place.

Leong’s flawless opening effort came courtesy of a brilliant front nine that yielded four birdies, with the other two coming at the 10th and 12th holes.

“I played solid today,” said the Sabahan, who calls Sabah Golf & Country Club as his home course. “I struck the ball really well and putted decently.

“The fairways here are quite wide but wet. And you still need to keep the ball in play, which I managed to do. And I drained a few putts as well, so it worked out okay for me,” added the in-form Leong, who finished tied second at the Swiss-Garden Championship last week.

For Kim, this was a good start in a bid to improve on his fourth-place finish at Danau Championship – his best showing on Tour this season. The 20-year-old, whose round was also bogey-free, said he was happy standing over the ball after putting in some “extra work in training”.

“I feel my game has definitely improved in recent months and that is because of the work we doing in training. My coach and I tried to tweak my swing and I think its working well. I played steady golf today. I swung the club well and finished the round without a bogey.”

Leading first round scores >
66 – Ben Leong
68 – Anis Helmi Hassan, M. Sasidaran, Jeremiah Kim Leun Kwang, Lam Yu Shuen
69 – Khor Kheng Hwai, Kemarol Baharin
70 – Azman Basharuddin, R. Nachimuthu, Shaifubari Muda, Chong Chee Ming, Nicholas Fung, Kenneth De Silva
71 – Muhd Wafiyuddin Abd Manaf, Low Khai Jei (A), Zamri Sariff, Airil Rizman Zahari, Sukree Othman, S. Sivachandhran