Chang Hwa, Chinese Taipei, July 25: Singapore’s Choo Tze Huang stood firmly grounded despite the gusty wind conditions when he fired a four-under-par 68 to take the opening clubhouse lead at the weather-disrupted US$160,000 Taifong Open on Friday.
Play was suspended at 4.50pm local time due to lightning threat before resuming at 6.00pm. It was later abandoned at 7.00pm due to fading light.
Only three players have to return to the Taifong Golf Club at 7.00am on Saturday to complete their first rounds, while the second round will start at 6.30am as originally planned.
The Asian Development Tour (ADT) event had earlier been reduced to 54-holes because of the adverse weather conditions caused by Typhoon Matmo on Wednesday.
The first round of the tournament was rescheduled for Friday and will end on Sunday.
Lin Wen-ko, younger brother of local hero Lin Wen-tang, carded a 69 to take second place with compatriot Yeh Wei-tze while local amateur Lee Chieh-po and Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines shared fourth after signing for matching 70s.
Choo felt lady luck played a huge role in his opening round as the morning conditions were more ideal than in the afternoon.
The Singaporean rattled off four consecutive birdies starting from the second hole before dropping a shot on the sixth to turn in 33. He added another three birdies and two bogeys on his way home at the Taifong Golf Club.
“I guess I was lucky because it was less windy when I played the front nine this morning. It got really windy on the back nine but I tried to hang in there. My putting was good today and I am very satisfied with how I played. I just kept the ball in play,” said the 27-year-old.
Choo had expected the rough playing conditions before coming to Chinese Taipei, where he won the Taiwan Amateur Open back in 2009.
“I kind of expected the windy conditions here having played many times here before so I was not too shaken by the windy conditions on my back nine. I will keep to the same mindset for tomorrow and try not to make too many mistakes. Just play smart and give myself as many opportunities as I can,” added Choo.
Choo had enjoyed some good results this season where he notched two top-10 finishes on the ADT, as well as a career-high tied-sixth result at the Queen’s Cup on the premier Asian Tour last month.
“My game’s getting better. I have been working really very hard on all aspects of my game especially since my former coach passed away last year which was heartbreak for me. I am working with a new coach in Malaysia now for the last couple of months and it’s good to see my efforts paying off. My current aim is to play more consistently,” said Choo.
Choo’s former coach was Natpasit Chokthanasart, nicknamed Pro Jew, who died last December. He used to share the same coach with reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand.
Yeh, 2000 Malaysian Open winner, is delighted with his round despite the tough conditions on course. He knows he must continue to stay focused as the weather conditions can change anytime over the next two days.
“It was really windy out there. It was difficult to make good tee shots but I think I played very well today. My approach shots and putting were all in place. I just have to keep doing what I’ve been doing and I will be fine for the next few rounds. Looking forward to tomorrow,” said the 41-year-old, who mixed his card with four birdies and one bogey.
Lin, who came through the tournament’s local qualifiers earlier on Monday, praised the Taifong Golf Club for being able to restore the course to its excellent playing conditions within such a short period of time after the passing of Typhoon Matmo.
“I think the golf club did a great job. The course condition was very good out there. It doesn’t seem like it was affected by typhoon earlier!” said Lin.
This season, the ADT will reward the top five players on the final Order of Merit with playing rights for the 2015 Asian Tour season. Previously, only the top-three players were offered Asian Tour cards.
Leading first round scores:
68 – CHOO Tze Huang (SIN)
69 – LIN Wen-ko (TPE), YEH Wei-tze (TPE)
70 – LEE Chieh-po (A) (TPE), Miguel TABUENA (PHI)
71 – Piya SWANGARUNPORN (THA), Suppakorn UTHAIPAT (THA), Rattanon WANNASRICHAN (THA), LEE Shih-hung (TPE), Nils FLOREN (SWE), Poosit SUPUPRAMAI (THA)