James Byrne of Scotland fired an eight-under-par 64 to establish a three-shot lead in the opening round of the inaugural Ciputra Golfpreneur Tournament on Thursday.
Byrne, a one-time winner on the Asian Development Tour (ADT), capped a magical front nine highlighted by six birdies to turn in 30 before adding three birdies and a lone bogey on his way home at the US$100,000 ADT event.
Thailand’s Poosit Supupramai and Victor Lee of Korea posted identical 67s for joint second place while a host of seven players, including Asian Tour regular Zaw Moe of Myanmar, ADT prospects Ye Jian-feng of China and Arie Irawan of Malaysia stayed one shot back to share fourth place at the Damai Indah Golf, BSD Course.
Ian Andrew emerged as the highest-placed Indonesian after signing for a 69 to take a share of 11th place at the Ciputra Golfpreneur Tournament, which is the 13th leg of the ADT schedule this season.
Byrne claimed his breakthrough victory on the ADT in Malaysia last year but has not been performing up to expectations since the start of this season. Despite notching a top-10 finish earlier in May, he has only made three cuts in eight starts on the ADT so far this season.
“I haven’t been playing well this season to be honest but I think my game is slowly picking up. I putted very well today and I gave myself a lot of chances for birdies. I shot six birdies in my front nine which gave me a lot of confidence,” said the 25-year-old, who nailed nine birdies against one bogey.
“I am definitely hoping for a second win on the ADT but I don’t want to think about it just yet. I just want to focus on playing well. I’m looking forward to the next three rounds,” added Byrne.
Poosit, who just celebrated his 21st birthday yesterday, hopes to make it a memorable one by winning his maiden ADT title this week.
“I had a solid round today. My putting was good and I didn’t make any mistakes. Hopefully I can keep up the good form for the next few rounds,” said Poosit, who returned with a bogey-free round highlighted by five birdies.
“This year has been pretty smooth for me. I enjoyed playing on the ADT and I’ve been in contention for a few times too. It would be a great birthday gift for myself if I can finish off well this week!” added the talented Thai, who turned professional five years ago at the age of 16.
Poosit is the younger brother of Sattaya, a one-time winner on the ADT.
Starting 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.
This is a significant boost for aspiring professionals on the ADT as it is the highest number of Asian Tour cards up for grabs since the burgeoning Tour was inaugurated as a gateway to the Asian Tour in 2010. Only the top three players on the final ADT Order of Merit for each season obtained their Asian Tour cards in the past.
Leading first round scores:
64 – James BYRNE (SCO)
67 – Victor LEE (KOR), Poosit SUPUPRAMAI (THA)
68 – YE Jian-feng (CHN), Anura ROHANA (SRI), Zaw MOE (MYR), Malcolm KOKOCINSKI (SWE), Jake STIRLING (AUS), Arie IRAWAN (MAS), Paul HARRIS (USA)
69 – Reagan PNG (SIN), Jay BAYRON (PHI), Ian ANDREW (INA), Airil Rizman ZAHARI (MAS), Sattaya SUPUPRAMAI (THA), Niall TURNER (IRL), James BOWEN (USA), Annop TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA), Suppakorn UTHAIPAT (THA)
Source: Asian Tour