HSU AND CHEN SHARE FIRST ROUND HONOURS AT BALLANTINE’S TAIWAN CHAMPIONSHIP
Taipei: Hsu Chia-jen of Chinese Taipei made a spirited start at the Ballantine’s Taiwan Championship after taking a share of the opening lead with compatriot Chen Chung-cheng on Thursday.
Hsu, a former Taiwan Amateur Open champion, carded a three-under-par 69 to tie with Chen, who played with an injured finger at the North Bay Golf and Country Club.
Lu Wen-teh, a five-time Asian Tour winner, Chen Jung-hsin, Chang Yao-bin and Vietnamese Michael Tran are a stroke back on 70 at the US$90,000 Asian Development Tour tournament.
Su Chin-an and Sung Mao-chang, also of Chinese Taipei, lie in tied seventh place alongside Myanmar’s Zaw Moe on 71 at the inaugural tournament.
Hsu, who is currently ranked fourth on the Asian Development Tour Order of Merit, put his knowledge of the golf course to good use as he posted a flawless round highlighted by three birdies.
“I’m a member of another golf club but I come here very often with my friends. I know this place very well and to be honest I’m quite disappointed with my score as I was aiming for four-under,” said the 29-year-old.
Hsu turned professional in 2005 and was inspired to join the play-for-pay ranks by his father and grandfather, who is a former Singapore Open champion. After struggling to find his form in previous years, he is beginning to turn the corner after making swing changes last year.
“I’m hitting it further now and I’m glad to be playing well. There is a good chance for me to win but I’m not going to take anything for granted. I think 16-under will be the winning score,” he said.
Chen, who won a local professional tournament in 2006, battled to a blemish free round with three birdies and credited a hot putter where he needed only 25 putts.
“I’m quite surprised I played so well because I injured my finger three days ago while cutting fruits. I told myself to go out and try to play a reasonable round and my putting worked wonders for me,” said Chen, who needed three stitches for his wound.
Vietnam’s rising star Tran, who is also known as Tran Le Duy Nhat mixed his card with seven birdies against five bogeys.
“I got off to a bright start but struggled later on in my round when the wind started to pick up. Luckily, I was able to come back strongly. The reason why I shot two-under is because I got a lot of birdies. I have to avoid making bogeys tomorrow and hope for a better score,” said the 20-year-old.