Kuala Lumpur: Asian Tour rookie Mathiam Keyser of South Africa sets the course on fire when he shot a six-under-par 66 to take the opening round lead at the PGM Vascory Templer Park Championship on Wednesday.
Malaysia’s top amateur Gavin Green, who is playing on a sponsor’s invitation this week, fired six birdies against a lone bogey to trail the South African by one shot in second place at the RM250,000 (approximately US$80,000) ADT event.
A host of 11 players, including defending champion Nicholas Fung of Malaysia, compatriot Ben Leong, China’s Ye Jian-feng and Grant Jackson of England, shared third place after signing for matching 68s at the Templer Park Country Club.
Keyser, who came home with a sensational back nine 30 highlighted by one eagle and four birdies, admitted he had his ups and downs since making the grade at the Asian Tour Qualifying School earlier this year.
However, he believes that it will be a good opportunity for him to fix his game this week before continuing to bid for success on the region’s premier Tour when the second half of the season resumes.
“I didn’t start off well. I bogeyed my first two holes but managed to recover with a handful of birdies and an eagle after that. I managed to get everything together on my back nine. I’ve had some good practice earlier this week so hopefully I can get a good result this week. I think my game is slowly getting there,” said the 27-year-old South African.
Green broke onto the scene and proved that he could mix it with the region’s leading professionals when he finished as the highest ranked Malaysian in tied-22nd place at the Maybank Malaysian Open in 2013. He will be looking to repeat last year’s heroics in his first attempt on the ADT this week.
“I kept the ball in place and I avoided making mistakes. I tried to grab as many birdies as I can out there. The course is in a great condition and the greens are slower here. I’m glad I played solid today,” said Green, who won the College All-America Golf Classic title at the El Paso Country Club in Texas last November.
“This is the first ADT event that I’ve ever played. The set-up is great and everything’s looking good. I still have quite a lot to do to get the job done this week so hopefully I can play consistently over the next few rounds,” added the 20-year-old, who is currently ranked 23rd on the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR).
Jackson, who returned with a flawless round highlighted by four birdies, had narrowly missed out on securing his 2014 Asian Tour card when he finished fifth on the final ADT Order of Merit last year.
The Englishman is hoping for a good result this week as that will put him closer to his goal of finishing inside the top-five on the merit rankings at the end of the season.
“I hit the ball very well today, only missing one green I think. My current form is good and I’m playing without any pressure. I gave myself a lot of chances and I hope to keep doing that for the next three rounds. I’ve played on this course for a few times before and I like it a lot,” said the 32-year-old Englishman.
“My main focus is to play well on the ADT this year. It’s a pity I missed out on the Asian Tour card last year. I will work harder this year and hopefully I can put myself in a better position towards the end of the season,” added Jackson.
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.
Working in close partnership with the PGM Tour, a total of 12 events will feature on this season’s ADT Schedule, giving Malaysian players a big incentive in chasing for a place on the region’s main Tour.
The ADT, which was launched in 2010 with five tournaments before growing to eight in 2011, 13 in 2012 and a record 16 in the 2013 season, has established itself as a gateway to the Asian Tour.
For more information on the ADT, please visit www.asiandevelopmenttour.com.
Leading first round scores:
66 – Mathiam Keyser (RSA)
67 – Gavin Green (A) (MAS)
68 – KHOR Kheng Hwai (MAS), Airil Rizman ZAHARI (MAS), Jake SHEPHERD (ENG), Yuki USAMI (JPN), YE Jian-feng (CHN), Ben LEONG (MAS), Grant JACKSON (ENG), Nicholas FUNG (MAS), Wolmer MURILLO (VEN), Masaru TAKAHASHI (JPN), CHANG Tse-peng (TPE)
69 – Annop TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA), Danny CHIA (MAS), Peter RICHARDSON (ENG), Rizal AMIN (MAS), Kevin MARQUES (AUS), S. Siva Chandhran (MAS)
Source: Asian Tour