Photo - Asian Tour
FLAWLESS SIVACHANDRAN TWO STROKES IN THE LEAD
Seremban, Malaysia: S. Sivachandran, touted as one of the local players to challenge for the title at the RM500,000 (approximately US$156,000) Negeri Sembilan Masters Invitational 2010 this week, did not disappoint as he seized the first round lead at the 6,303-metre, par-72 Seremban International Golf Club (SIGC).
Buoyed by a superb driving performance and a sizzling hot putter, Siva, 31, drained in three birdies at the third, fourth and sixth holes on the front nine before adding three more birdies at holes 11, 14 and 16 for a flawless round of six-under-par 66 for a two-shot advantage over local lad Akhmal Tarmizee Mohd Nazari and Filipino Mars Pucay.
“I’m happy with my game. I made some long putts and generally avoided trouble. The golf course is not easy. It demands prudent shotmaking off the tee to get in good position,” said Siva who made a couple of marvelous 20-footers for birdies early in his round to get his challenge going.
“This is my best start to the championship but I’m not getting ahead of myself here as there are three more rounds to go. I hope to do well and tomorrow, I will just go out and play,” added Siva who has a good record in the championship where he had a top ten finish last year and a sixth place finish the year before.
Despite struggling to hit the short grass, only finding five out of 14 fairways, Akhmal, who is a product of a successful junior program at SIGC, took advantage of his familiarity with the layout to card seven birdies and three bogeys for a four-under-par 68.
“I played good. My putting, especially the long ones from 20 feet out were great. That’s definitely the highlight of my game today,” said Akhmal who currently ranks second on the Asian Development Tour after finishing third in the Air Bagan Myanmar Masters in January.
“I hope tomorrow I can play and score as good as today. I think all of the players have equal chance to win, I mean its only the first day and anything can happen. But Siva had played impressively. It’s good if we can have a Malaysian as the champion this year,” added Akhmal.
Akhmal’s playing partner, Pucay chalked up five birdies and a single bogey to match his score. Pucay credited his impeccable ball striking to his fine round where he only missed one fairway - at the eighth hole - where he ended with the only bogey of his round.
Rookie professional, Nicholas Fung started strongly with a chip-in eagle on the 316-metre, par-four first hole and eventually ended his round on three-under-par 69 tied with Japan’s Takafumi Kawane and Lee Yi-cheng and Lien Lu-sen from Chinese Taipei.
Seven other players including locals Airil Rizman Zahari and Iain Steel are tied on two-under-par 70. Defending champion, Lam Chih Bing from Singapore could only manage an even-par 72 while Mohd Shaaban Hussin returned with a three-over-par 75.