Takahashi and Iylia share first round lead at PGM MIDF KLGCC Masters

Kuala Lumpur: Local hope Iylia Jamil and Masaru Takahashi of Japan got off to flying starts with matching five-under-par 66s to share the opening round lead at the PGM MIDF KLGCC Masters on Thursday.

The leading duo fired six birdies against a lone bogey to hold a two-shot lead over Chinese Taipei’s Lee Cho-chuan, Thailand’s Pavit Tangkamolprasert and Niall Turner of Ireland at the RM200,000 (approximately US$65,000) Asian Development Tour (ADT) event.

Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung and Shaaban Hussin, as well as Thai trio Pijit Petchkasem, Pasamet Pogamnerd and Pasavee Lertvilai, signed for 69s to tie for sixth place at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club’s East course.

Iylia, one of the young Malaysians coming through the ranks on the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour, credited hard work with his coach, Ayoub Oussar, for his solid performance.

“Everything went well today. It’s a course that I’m very familiar with. You have to hit the ball onto the fairways to score. I’ve been working hard with my coach for the past few months and I’m glad to see improvements in my game,” said Iylia.

He has struggled in the first half of the year, missing the halfway cuts in five ADT events this season but reckons he’s back on track to secure a career breakthrough on the region’s secondary circuit managed by the Asian Tour.

“My game is getting better. I missed cuts in all five of the ADT events I played earlier this year. However, I managed to make cuts in my last three events on the ADT. I am confident that my game will continue to get better,” added Iylia.

Takahashi credited a hot putter for the joint lead at the PGM MIDF KLGCC Masters, which is the penultimate tournament of the 2013 season.

“The course is in a great condition. Everything seems to go my way today. It was a little bit windy but overall, it’s good. I’m happy with how I played. My putting was good too. Hopefully I can carry on my good form tomorrow,” said the 27-year-old Japanese.

In-form Lee is confident of playing well in the next few rounds as he mastered the art of scoring on this course.

“You have to hit good tee shots to play well on this golf course. I didn’t start well today but my iron play and putting were great. I had a couple of chances for birdies on the back nine. I should be able to do well in the next few days if I can continue to hit the ball onto the fairways,” said the 39-year-old.

Fung, the top-ranked golfer in Malaysia, was happy to be in the title mix. “The course is in a great condition. It will be tough if you miss the fairways but I managed to keep my ball in play. However, my iron shots were bad today. I need to work on that,” said the Sabahan, who is currently second on the ADT Order of Merit.

The top three players at the end of the season will earn Asian Tour cards for 2014.

All ADT events receive Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points starting this year. Winners on the ADT will receive a minimum of six world ranking points while the top six players and ties will earn points based on a sliding scale.

The ADT was launched in 2010 with five tournaments before growing to eight in 2011 and 13 last year. It has proven to be a successful platform for upcoming players to gain entry into the region’s premier Tour, which is celebrating its milestone 10th season in 2013.

The PGM MIDF KLGCC Masters is co-sanctioned by the ADT and PGM Tour. It is the 15th and penultimate leg of the season, with details of the season-ending tournament to be announced in due course.

Leading first round scores:

66 – Masaru TAKAHASHI (JPN), Mohd Iylia JAMIL (MAS)
68 – LEE Cho-chuan (TWN), Pavit TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA), Niall TURNER (IRL)
69 - Pijit PETCHKASEM (THA), Nicholas FUNG (MAS), Pasamet POGAMNERD (THA), Pasavee LERTVILAI (THA), Shaaban HUSSIN (MAS)
71 – Jake STIRLING (AUS), TSENG Hong-sheng (TWN), Arie FAUZI (MAS), LEE Shih-hung (TWN), HUANG Hsiang-hao (TWN), Supravee PHATAM (THA), Shaifubari MUDA (MAS), Koh Deng Shan (SIN), Akhmal TARMIZEE (MAS), Rizal AMIN (MAS)