Zen Dharmaratne took the lead of a Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour event for the first time in his budding career when he climbed to the top of the Sabah Champions leaderboard today.
Having come through the Tour’s feeder circuit where he won as an amateur and turned pro immediately after, Zen fired a four-under-par 68 for a 138 total at Sabah Golf & Country Club in Kota Kinabalu.
That effort was good enough to give the 24-year-old a one-stroke lead at the halfway stage of the RM200,000 tournament, co-sanctioned with the Asian Development Tour and one that carries world ranking points.
Understandably pleased with the unfolding events of today, Zen said: “Yes, I am rather happy with how I played yesterday (70) and today. But I am not getting carried away because I know we are only at the halfway stage of the tournament.”
Nonetheless, the Kuala Lumpur-based lad showed good composure when scoring was made difficult by several factors, not least of them a course that when the sun was out and hot, it played hard and dry.
“My overall game so far has been in good rhythm,” added Zen. “I hit the ball well and I putted well too. I found the greens to my liking,” he said. “And because almost everything I putted went in, it was really a confidence-boost.”
He had five birdies on his card with a solitary bogey.
Thailand’s Pavit Tangkamolprasert shot a 69 and overnight leader Danny Chia of Malaysia an even-par 72 that left them in a share of second place on 139.
Two-time PGM Player of the Year Nicholas Fung made up ground with a five-under 67. He moved into a tie for fourth place alongside the Thai trio of Donlaphatchai Niyomchon (68), Sutijet Kooratanapisan (70) and Phachara Khongwatmai (72), Indonesian William Sjaichudin (66) and China’s Ye Jian-Feng (69). They were four-under 140.
Reigning PGM Player of the Year Airil Rizman matched William’s six-under round as the lowest of the day and it left him to remark: “Today was one of those rounds when everything went according to plan.
“I was good off the tee box, hit solid irons, scrambled well and putted with a lot of confidence.”
Airil conceded though that after his outstanding second-half of last year, during which he won twice en route to capturing the PGM tour Order of Merit title, he has somewhat been off-colour on the course.
“But it seems to be changing now,” he noted. “I have been coming good recently and today was the highlight.
“I am comfortable and confident with my swing, and other areas of my game. I have also been working on a stricter fitness regime that I feel is helping now,” he added.
Leading Second Round Scores
138 Zen Dharmaratne (Mas) 70-68
139 Pavit Tangkamolprasert (Tha) 70-69, Danny Chia (Mas) 67-72
140 Nicholas Fung (Mas) 73-67 ,Donlaphatchai Niyomchon (Tha) 72-68, William Sjaichudin (Ina) 74-66, Ye Jian-Feng (Chn) 71-69, Phachara Khongwatmai (Tha) 68-72, Sutijet Kooratanapisan (Tha) 70-70
141 Gyeongjun Lee (Kor) 72-69, Danthai Boonma (Tha) 72-69, Koh Deng Shan (Sin) 70-71
142 Ratchapol Jantavara (Tha) 71-71, Nirun Sae-Ueng (Tha) 73-69
143 Nils Floren (Swe) 72-71, Lindsay Renolds (Can) 70-73, Mitchell Slorach (Sin) 71-72