Dhaka: Japan’s Shunya Takeyasu and Soomin Lee of Korea took advantage of their fine form by signing for matching seven-under-par 64s to share the opening round lead at the US$300,000 Bashundhara Bangladesh Open on Wednesday.
Takeyasu, who won his maiden Asian Development Tour (ADT) victory in Malaysia last week, returned with a bogey-free round highlighted by seven birdies while Lee, who came off the back of a top-10 finish in Myanmar, was equally impressive at the Kurmitola Golf Club.
The leading duo holds a one-shot lead over Thitiphun Chuayprakong of Thailand who took third place on his own while Mithun Perera of Sri Lanka, Thailand’s Pavit Tangkamolprasert and Shubhankar Sharma of India shared fourth following identical 66s.
Home favourite Siddikur Rahman, alongside compatriots Md. Jibon Ali, Md. Abdul Matin and Zamal Hossain, emerged as the highest placed Bangladeshis in tied-14 position on 68s.
Takeyasu, playing in his first Asian Tour event this week, wielded a hot putter and needed only 23 putts around the course, which included a 32-footer putt for par on the first hole.
“I played solid today, especially my putting. I sank a long putt on the first hole and that was kind of the highlight for me today. This is a challenging golf course. The fairways are tight so you got to drive the ball really well and put the ball in good positions,” said the 23-year-old Japanese.
After securing his 2016 Asian Tour card at the Qualifying School last month, Takeyasu played on the ADT for two weeks in a row in Malaysia where he capped a victory as well as a second-place finish.
“Winning on the ADT last week was a great confidence-booster. The game has been feeling good and I am riding on my good form. I hope I can continue to play like that for the next three rounds,” added Takeyasu.
Lee, who finished tied-second last year, was thrilled to put up another noteworthy performance in one of his favourite hunting grounds.
“I feel very excited out there. I had a good finish last year and I was very happy because it was my first year playing on the Asian Tour. It’s great to be back again. There are a lot of good memories,” said the 22-year-old Korean.
“I played with Mithun and Carlos (Pigem) and we had great fun out there. I was able to just play my own game. I have been playing well. I finished top-10 in Myanmar last week and I am riding on that good form coming here. Everything was good for me today,” added Lee.
Thitiphun showed he was eager to erase the heartbreak of missing the halfway cut last year after marking his card with one eagle and six birdies against two bogeys to stay one shot off the pace.
“I think I am very lucky today, especially my putting. I sank in 15-footers on the eight and 18. The course is not easy. I putted very well and I guess that was what makes the difference today,” said the 23-year-old Thai, who sank a 10-footer eagle putt on seventh after hitting a three-wood for about 260 yards to the pin.
With the Olympic Games looming in July where golf will be reintroduced as a medal sport, the Bashundhara Bangladesh Open will be a good opportunity for players in the region to earn their spots in Rio de Janeiro with the Official World Golf Ranking points on offer.