Terengganu, Malaysia, August 21 - Local hope Airil Rizman and Australia’s Darren Tan posted matching six-under-par 65s to share the first round lead at the PGM Terengganu Masters on Wednesday.
The leading duo fired eight birdies against two bogeys to hold a two-shot lead at the RM200,000 (approximately US$65,000) Asian Development Tour (ADT) event.
Indonesia’s George Gandranata, Nabil Abdul of Australia and local amateur Adam Muda shared third place on 67s at the Awana Kijal Golf & Beach Resort. Scott Barr of Australia and Malaysian duo Rizal Amin and S. Siva Chandhran signed for identical 68s to tie for sixth.
Airil, who clinched his maiden Asian Tour title in 2007, was delighted to reproduce some of his old magic in the 11th ADT event of the season.
“The golf course is a lot better than last year. I think it has improved a lot. My iron play was great today and I made a few putts,” said Airil.
“I’m happy with how I played today. I will try my best to score as low as possible in the next few rounds,” added the 35-year-old Malaysian.
Tan, on the other hand, is hopeful for a breakthrough win on the ADT after a stretch of good finishes. He finished tied eight and tied fifth at the Ballantine’s Taiwan Championship and ICTSI Mount Malarayat Classic respectively earlier this month.
“I played really solid today. I’m happy with my current form. I finished well in the last few tournaments and that kind of boosted my confidence a bit. I hope to maintain my good form and play better tomorrow,” said the Australian.
Highly-rated Gandranata has shown vast improvements in his game since making his ADT debut in 2012. The Indonesian opened his Terengganu campaign with a flawless round highlighted by two birdies in each half.
“I hit about 15 to 16 greens and made a number of putts. I guess the conditions out there made it easy to score today,” said the 27-year-old Gandranata, who is searching for a first ADT victory this week.
The Indonesian’s best result this season was a tied eighth finish at the PGM Northport Glenmarie Master in March.
Rory Hie, Indonesia's top ranked player is 2 shots further back in a share of 9th place.
Malaysia’s top-ranked golfer Nicholas Fung and compatriot Iain Steel posted matching 70s while ADT Order of Merit leader, James Bowen of the United States shot a 71 for a share of 19th position.
The top three players on the Order of Merit at the end of the season will earn Asian Tour cards for the following year.
All ADT events receive Official World Golf Ranking points, which will be used to determine the field for the World Cup of Golf in Melbourne in November and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Winners on the ADT will receive a minimum of six world ranking points while the top six players and ties will earn points based on a sliding scale.
Leading first round scores:
65 – Darren TAN (AUS), Airil Rizman ZAHARI (MAS)
67 – George GANDRANATA (INA), Nabil ABDUL (AUS), Adam MUDA (A) (MAS)
68 – Rizal AMIN (MAS), S. Siva Chandhran (MAS), Scott BARR (AUS)
69 – Man O IM (USA), Rory HIE (INA), Mitsuhiko HASHIZUME (JPN), R. Nachimuthu (MAS), Shaaban HUSSIN (MAS), Grant JACKSON (ENG), CHONG Lip-shien (NED), Arie FAUZI (MAS), Lindsay RENOLDS (CAN), Takuya YAMAUCHI (JPN)
77 - William SJAICHUDIN (A) (INA)