Kuala Lumpur: England’s Peter Richardson set the first round pace at the season-ending PGM MIDF KLGCC Championship with a five-under-par 66 on Wednesday as Malaysia’s Arie Irawan and Grant Jackson of England stumbled in their quest for Asian Tour cards.
The 30-year-old Richardson, who holds one victory on the Asian Development Tour (ADT), shot six birdies, including four in a row, at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club’s East course to take early charge of the RM250,000 (approximately US$80,000) tournament.
Chinese Taipei’s Tseng Hong-sheng sank a hole-in-one en route to a 67 for the joint second place with Malaysia’s Hans Jamil, Thailand’s Nakarintra Ratanakul, Australian Darren Tan and Japan’s Mitsuhiko Hashizume.
With the top-five finishers on the ADT Order of Merit earning Asian Tour cards after this week’s season finale, sixth-ranked Arie had a day to forget with a disappointing 85 while Jackson, lying in seventh place on the rankings, shot a 75.
American Brett Munson, who lies in fifth position, battled to a 71 for joint 14th place to keep his hopes alive. The current top-four players – Pavit Tangkamolprasert of Thailand, Chinese Taipei’s Chan Shih-chang, Irishman Niall Turner and Sattaya Supupramai of Thailand – have skipped this week’s Malaysian event to compete on the Asian Tour’s Bank BRI Indonesia Open.
After taking a three-week break, Richardson, who is 11th on the Merit list, was delighted he took the decision to fly out to Malaysia.
“I was kind of 50-50 if I should come out to play. Winning will get me to sixth at the highest and I’ve got nothing else to lose. I’ll try to win. There is no pressure and I’ll just try to come out and play my game. Finishing sixth or seventh on the ADT Order of Merit, it’s not the end of the world. It would be a nice end to the year,” said Richardson, whose four birdies in a row came from the 12th to 15th holes.
The 24-yearold Arie, who has registered nine top-10s this season, including in his last five starts, was disappointed to shoot himself out of contention. “I was trying to be too aggressive. On this course, which is high risk and high reward, if you’re wayward, you’re going to make some big numbers,” said the Malaysian, who did not post a single birdie on the card.
“I’ve had my highs (this season), this may be a down. I had three shots into the hazard, one out of bounds and one unplayable lie, so those really killed me. If I don’t get top-five, I will still get my country exemption for the Asian Tour or I may just sign up for Qualifying School.”
Needing a win to have any chance of breaking into the top-five, seventh-ranked Jackson struggled to a 75. He shot one eagle but had four bogeys and one double bogey.
“I had a really rough start and couldn’t get it off the tee. It wasn’t like in the previous days. I’ll have to go to the range and try to work it out. I was finding it in the rough and you can’t score from there,” said Jackson.
“It’s a long way still to go. I’ll try to come back strong tomorrow. Some of the pins were tough and it was difficult to get it into the hole. I was scrambling on most holes and when I was playing good golf, I couldn’t get it close.”
Since its inauguration in 2010, the ADT has grown from five events in the first year to a record 21 tournaments in 2014. The ADT has announced a provisional 2015 schedule of a minimum 17 tournaments with several more to be announced in due course. All ADT events receive Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points.
For more information on the ADT, please visit www.asiandevelopmenttour.com.
Leading First Round Scores
66: Peter RICHARDSON (ENG)
67: Nakarintra RATANAKUL (THA), TSENG Hong-sheng (Tpe), Hans JAMIL (MAS), Mitsuhiko HASHIZUME (JPN), Darren TAN (AUS)
68: Rizal AMIN (MAS), Airil Rizman ZAHARI (MAS)
69: Sukree OTHMAN (MAS)
70: Lindsay RENOLDS (CAN), CHANG Tse-peng (Tpe), Mohd Iylia JAMIL (MAS), Roberto GALLETTI (USA)