Continuing a decent run of good form, Malaysia’s Danny Chia seized the lead of the opening round of the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour’s Sabah Championship today.
The veteran fired a five-under-par 67 at Sabah Golf & Country Club in Kota Kinabalu in the RM200,000 event that is co-sanctioned with the Asian Development Tour, to lead by one stroke from Thailand teenager Phachara Khongwatmai.
On a crowded leaderboard, there was also a six-way tie for third place on two-under 70, with Hsieh Chi-Hsien of Taipei, Canadian Lindsay Renolds, Singaporean Koh Deng Shan, the Thai duo of Sutijet Kooratanapisan and Pavit Tangkamolprasert (Tha), and Malaysia’s Zen Dharmaratne all staking an early claim for honours.
Thais Pannakorn Uthaipas and Ratchapol Jantavara, China’s Ye Jian-Feng and Mitchell Slorach of Singapore were the other players to have gone under-par on the first day, carding 71s.
Commenting on his performance, Chia said: “I hit the ball solid today and putted well too.
“My overall performance was good and the key was giving myself chances at birdies. I was able to do that because my driving and iron shots into the green were solid.”
Chia’s round was unblemished as his carded two birdies on the two par-5s on the first nine and another three birdies over the homeward stretch – including one at the par-3 12th hole.
Sixteen-year-old Phachara, who hails from Bangkok and set a then record as the youngest winner on the PGM and ADT Tours when he won the CCM Rahman Putra Championship at Kelab Rahman Putra Malaysia in Rawang in March as a 15-year-old, said he was just going about his business as usual.
Unflustered by the attention that surrounds his movements on Tour because of his outstandingly polished game and his tender age, Phachara had only one bogey on his card – at the par-5 14th hole.
However, he more than made up for that with a birdie on the 9th and then another four on the back nine, including one at the last hole.
“I am happy with my game,” said the player who many in Thailand, and now the region, say should go on to make his mark at the highest levels of the game.
He said he particularly liked the greens, which were in good condition and “not too fast or too slow”.
“And I will try to play steady golf again tomorrow,” added the young pro.
Leading Second Round Scores
67 Danny Chia (Mas)
68 Phachara Khongwatmai (Tha)
70 Hsieh Chi-Hsien (Tpe), Lindsay Renolds (Can), Koh Deng Shan (Sin), Sutijet Kooratanapisan (Tha), Pavit Tangkamolprasert (Tha), Zen Dharmaratne (Mas)
71 Ye Jian-Feng (Chn), Pannakorn Uthaipas (Tha), Mitchell Slorach (Sin), Ratchapol Jantavara (Tha)
72 Chanat Sakulpolphaisan (Tha), Arie Irawan (Mas), Itthipat Buranatanyarat (Tha), Danthai Boonma (Tha), Darren Tan (Aus), Nils Floren (Swe), Gyeongjun Lee (Kor), Donlaphatchai Niyomchon (Tha).