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Siem Reap, Cambodia: Japan’s Kenichi Kuboya opened his campaign strongly by posting a flawless seven-under-par 65 to take the first round lead at the Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open on Thursday.


Thailand’s Atiwit Janewattananond who made history by becoming the youngest player at 14 years and 71 days to make the cut at the Asian Tour season-opener in February carded a 66 for second place while Bangladesh’s Siddikur and defending champion Marcus Both of Australia returned with matching 67s to share third place at the penultimate US$300,000 full field Asian Tour event before the season finale Black Mountain Masters in Hua Hin next week.


Kuboya who teed off in the front-nine in the morning posted his first birdie on the par-four fourth before adding successive birdies on the eighth and ninth holes to reach the halfway mark in 33.


The red colours on his card continued to show on holes 10, 12, 16 and 17 after the turn, giving the Japanese a one-shot cushion going into the second round.


“I like this golf course as it really suits my game. Although the winds were picking up mid-way through my round, I still putted really well and I believed that gave me the confidence to do so well today,” said Kuboya.


Meanwhile Atiwit’s stocks have been rising since he turned professional at the King’s Cup a fortnight ago.  He marked his 15th birthday by making it into the weekend rounds in his first tournament as a professional then and is now among the leaders in his second tournament.


Having got off to an encouraging start, the young Thai is however planning to adopt a defensive approach for his second round.


“I feel that I’m not hitting the ball long enough. As such, I don’t plan to go on the offensive and attack the pins as some of these shots may cost me dearly,” said the young talent who posted seven birdies at the Phokeethra Country Club.


“I hope to continue what I’ve done today and hopefully it’ll be another good round tomorrow,” added Atiwit whose only blemish to his card was a bogey on the par-four 10th.


Siddikur continued to make good on his promise to spearhead the rise of golf in Bangladesh with another inspired performance on the Asian Tour.


Starting on the back-nine, Siddikur posted three birdies on holes 12, 13 and 17 to reach the turn in 33.


He continued his birdie blitz on the par-five second and fourth hole to return home comfortably in 67.


“Playing conditions were perfect today and I couldn’t have asked for a better start,” said Siddikur.


“You can say that I was quite lucky on the 17th and second hole. My second shot went into the bunker but I got it back onto the green with my third shot. I managed to birdie both holes from about 30 feet,” added Siddikur who is one of the favourites to win the US$300,000 full field Asian Tour event that is now into its fourth edition.


Another strong favourite, Both put up a stout defence of his title after settling the early nerves. Like Siddikur, the 31-year-old Australian also enjoyed a blemish-free round, marking his card with birdies on the fourth, eighth, ninth, 10th and 12thholes.


“You tend to feel a little bit of pressure especially when you’re the defending champion. But once I got the first tee shot somewhere in the middle of the fairway, I got more relax and did not feel that anxious anymore,” said the defending champion.


“I controlled the ball nicely and made a couple of putts today which made a difference on the leaderboard. 67 around here anytime here is good, especially in the afternoon where the greens were a little bumpy. Hopefully we can get some nice benign conditions in the morning tomorrow and get a good number on the board,” added Both.


Leading first round scores

65 - Kenichi Kuboya (JPN)

66 - Atiwit Janewattananond (THA)

67 - Siddikur (BAN), Marcus Both (AUS)

68 - Mo Joong-kyung (KOR), Adam Groom (AUS), Panuwat Muenlek (THA), Stuart Lunn-Walker (AUS), Young Nam (KOR)

69 - Antonio Lascuna (PHI), Juvic Pagunsan (PHI), Thaworn Wiratchant (THA), Lu Wen-teh (TPE), Rory Hie (INA), Joshua Kelley (USA), Quincy Quek (SIN), Jason King (AUS), Lam Chih Bing (SIN), Jakkapong Juntavara (THA), Kim Hyung-sung (KOR), Guido Van Der Valk (NED), Wisut Artjanawat (THA)


Selected scores

70 - Thongchai Jaidee (THA), Mardan Mamat (SIN)


Photo - Asian Tour 


Asian Tour 

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