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Singapore: Little known Peter Karmis of South Africa produced his best round this season with a superb nine-under-par 63 to seize the opening lead at the inaugural Handa Singapore Classic on Thursday.
Karmis, who earned his Asian Tour card at Qualifying School in Thailand this year, holed two huge putts from 30 feet on the 10th and 12th holes to open up a one stroke lead at the Orchid Country Club.
Evergreen Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand, an 11-time Asian Tour champion, posted a 64 to stay in touch with the leader at the US$400,000 full field Asian Tour event.
Local hope Mardan Mamat, Chan Yih-shin of Chinese Taipei, Australian Kim Felton, Japanese duo Kenichi Kuboya and Hirotaro Naito and Asian Tour rookies David Johnson of the United States and Oscar Fraustro of Mexico took a share of third position on 65.
Karmis, who has won two titles in South Africa, produced a flawless round highlighted by nine birdies. He endured a mixed season earlier in the year but was delighted to bounce back with some acute iron play.
“I missed a few fairways but my iron play helped pull my game up. I didn’t hit the ball well earlier in the season but my short game has been improving a lot. I have been working on my game in recent months and it clicked today,” said the 29-year-old, who found 16 greens today.
He was beaming with confidence after his superb round and made his intentions clear of aiming for a first Asian Tour victory.
“Honestly, I’m here to win. I played well and that’s a good a good start. I hope to carry my confidence over to the remaining rounds,” said Karmis.
Thaworn, the 2005 Order of Merit champion, was disappointed to bogey the last hole but admitted he was lucky to return with a low score as he only found four fairways.
“It has been a long time since I shot such a low score. My putting wasn’t that good or I could have gone lower. I was very lucky because I hit many shots in the rough but still managed to get myself out of trouble,” said the 43-year-old.
Mardan, a two-time Asian Tour winner, was the best local performer when he returned with eight birdies against one bogey. The Singaporean, who is fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, credited his knowledge of the course and good ball striking where he found 16 greens.
“I played good from tee to green and made good putts to keep me going. I know the golf course well but I still need to hit good shots and hole good putts. Today is the last day of fasting and it is difficult to fast and play but I have to do what I have to do,” said Mardan.
“Orchid Country Club has been kind to the local pros. For the past three months, they have allowed us to practice here and it gives us the opportunity to know more about the course,” said the 43-year-old.
Asian Tour rookie Fraustro, who trains under Lorena Ochoa’s coach Rafael Alarcon, got off to a brilliant start when he birdied the first two holes before adding birdies on six, 12, 13, 15 and 18 in his blemish free round.
“It is a very good start. I hit it very close on the first two holes and from there I got comfortable with my swing and putting and it felt like an easy day.
“I had a slow start to the season because I was flying from the United States to Asia and it takes a few days to get used to the time difference, the grass type and everything is a little different. I’m slowly getting the grasp of things and enjoying my time here,” said the 28-year-old.
The Handa Singapore Classic will be broadcasted live over two days throughout Asia and several countries in Europe.
Countries that will beam the live coverage of the Handa Singapore Classic include StarHub Golf Channel in Singapore, Astro Golf Channel in Malaysia, CCTV Golf Channel in China, PCCW in Hong Kong, True Vision in Thailand, Sports Cast in Chinese Taipei, Balls Channel in Philippines, JGolf in Korea, Fox Sports in Australia, Viasat in Scandinavia, Canal+ in Spain, SportTV in Portugal and Iko Balkan in the Balkans.

Asian Tour

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