Indian star Anirban Lahiri enjoyed a birdie binge en route to a seven-under-par 64 for a two-shot lead after the first round of the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters on Thursday.
The 27-year-old Lahiri, currently second on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, sank 10 birdies against three bogeys at the Seri Selangor Golf Club to put himself in prime position for a second win of the season.
Countryman S.S.P. Chowrasia carded a 66 to share second place with Chinese Taipei’s Chan Yih-shin while another Chinese Taipei player, Hung Chien-yao carded a 67 for fourth place in the RM1.3 million (approximately US$410,000) Asian Tour event.
Malaysia’s Shaaban Hussin emerged as the best home player, firing a 68 to share fifth position with amongst others Australian rookie Cameron Smith, Thailand’s Sattaya Supupramai and Chapchai Nirat and American Berry Henson.
An in-form Lahiri, who finished tied fourth in Taipei last weekend and was runner-up here last season, was delighted with his blistering start. “I’m really happy with how I played. I got off to a good start and made a couple of good putts. It could have been even better. I missed some short putts but I hit it really good,” said Lahiri, who is a four-time Tour winner.
“I have a lot of positive energy coming into this week, having finished second here last year. It tells you that you can do it. I’ve figured out how to play on this golf course so it helps when you’ve played here a few times.”
Playing alongside current Merit leader David Lipsky, who carded a 72, the talented Indian only missed three fairways and three greens as he had to negotiate swirling winds in the afternoon session.
“The wind started and stopped, started and stopped but I’m really happy. I missed a few shots but I made a few so I have no complains. It is nice when you have that confidence. I’ll keep my head down and keep moving in the right direction,” he said.
Chowrasia, a two-time Asian Tour winner, enjoyed a sparkling outward 30 with five birdies before coming home with two more birdies against two bogeys. “I started very well but struggled a bit on the back nine. This is a short but very tricky course. You always have to place the ball in the right spots,” said Chowrasia, who is currently 10th on the Order of Merit.
“I’ve been working on every aspect of my game and I think the hard work is starting to show results.”
Chan, who lost his Tour card with a poor season in 2013 where he missed 10 cuts in 19 starts, was delighted with lowest opening round since winning the 2011 Venetian Macau Open. He credited a hot putter for propelling him onto the leaderboard.
“My putter was very good, took only 27 putts on the greens,” smiled Chan. “I made like about five putts from the eight foot range which is always very nice. The course is not an easy course to play on, so I am happy. I think I got lucky with my putting.
“Last year, I didn’t play very well on Tour and lost my Tour card which was disappointing. This is only my third tournament of the season, so hopefully I can find some good form for the rest of the week.”
The 30-year-old Sattaya credited the Asian Development Tour, the feeder circuit to the Asian Tour, for raising his game as one eagle and three birdies pushed him into contention at the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters.
“A lot of my confidence comes from the ADT. I’ve learnt how to handle the pressure by playing on the ADT and I’m now a much better player as you can see from my result today,” said the Thai, who is currently fourth on the ADT rankings.
Local hope Shaaban, who played alongside Lahiri and Lipsky, made the most of his home course knowledge, firing successive eagles on the fifth and sixth holes. “Making those two eagles was unbelievable but on the next hole, I pulled my tee shot and then made double! I was trying to go for a third straight eagle” said Shaaban, who was in contention at the event in 2009 before settling for joint 11th place.
Scores after round 1 of the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters 2014 being played at the par 71, 6,955 Yards Seri Selangor Golf Club (a- denotes amateur):
64 – Anirban LAHIRI (IND).
66 – S.S.P CHOWRASIA (IND), CHAN Yih-shin (TPE).
67 – HUNG Chien-yao (TPE).
68 – Cameron SMITH (AUS), Adam GROOM (AUS), Mathiam KEYSER (RSA), Sattaya SUPUPRAMAI (THA), Shaaban HUSSIN (MAS), Chapchai NIRAT (THA).
69 – Chan KIM (USA), Zaw MOE (MYN), PARK Byung-joo (KOR), Jay BAYRON (PHI), Thammanoon SRIROJ (THA), Sam CYR (USA), Chinnarat PHADUNGSIL (THA), Kieran PRATT (AUS), Paul PETERSON (USA), Rattanon WANNASRICHAN (THA).
70 – Sukree OTHMAN (MAS), Anthony KANG (USA), Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA), Chris GAUNT (AUS), Md. Iylia JAMIL (MAS), Jack MUNRO (AUS), WANG Jeung-hun (KOR), Simon GRIFFITHS (ENG), Scott BARR (AUS), George GANDRANATA (INA), Lionel WEBER (FRA), Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA), Marcus BOTH (AUS), Antonio LASCUNA (PHI), Chiragh KUMAR (IND), Mars PUCAY (PHI).
Source: Asian Tour