Hua Hin, Thailand: A relaxed Angelo Que of the Philippines made a welcome return to form to share the first round lead with Japanese duo Tetsuji Hiratsuka and Daisuke Maruyama at the US$600,000 Black Mountain Masters on Thursday.
Que brilliantly fired two eagles, four birdies and a lone bogey at the magnificent Black Mountain Golf Club for a seven-under-par 65, which was matched by his Japanese rivals in what is the Asian Tour’s season finale.
Korea’s Lee Sung, who was born deaf but had an implant surgically placed in his right hear to help with his hearing recently, shot a 66 to share third place with big-hitting local star Chapchai Nirat, countryman Atthaphon Prathummanee, India’s Himmat Rai, England’s Simon Griffiths and American Anthony Kang on a day of low scoring.
Three-time Order of Merit winner Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, fresh off a victory in Cambodia on Sunday, rued a cold putter after carding a 68 to trail by three shots while defending champion Johan Edfors of Sweden stumbled to a 74.
A bogey on his last hole failed to dampen Que’s mood. “I’m just coming out for a good time and whatever happens, happen,” said the jovial Filipino, a three-time Asian Tour winner.
“Normally if I shoot seven under with a bogey on the last, I’ll be so mad and depressed. But you know what, I still shot seven under. It’s just a bogey. I think looking at things that way helps a lot.”
Que’s form dipped after lifting a third career title in August in Malaysia as he started putting pressure on himself to achieve more success. He realized his mistake and vowed to maintain his happy-go-lucky style. “The next time I win, I’ll just let it go and do whatever I can and not think about anything,” said Que.
“The two eagles helped. As my caddie described it, I hit a solid fat shot on the par five 13th and holed a 20 footer. I also holed my bunker shot on sixth (for eagle). I was a bit lucky. Hopefully the luck stays with me the whole week.”
A blazing finish with four closing birdies put Hiratsuka in the hunt for his third Asian Tour victory of the season. “I hit it very solid but struggled with my putting on my front nine (started on the 10th tee). It started to click in my homeward nine and I sank four straight birdies which was a great way to end my round,” said Hiratsuka, who won the Air Bagan Myanmar Open and Queen’s Cup in Thailand this year.
Countryman Maruyama, who finished 15th on the Japan Tour moneylist this year, was bogey free and got lucky on the second hole, which he eagled. “I thought it (his three wood approach) was going to end up in the water hazard as I hit a low shot but luckily, it found the green and I holed a putt from 15 feet,” said Maruyama, who is a two time Asian Tour winner.
Lee, who has won once on the Asian Tour, arrived in Black Mountain with the ability to hear and he made some loud noises of his own with his clinical iron play. “Hit my irons solid and longest putt was from 20 feet at the 14th hole,” said the Korean, whose father Kang-kun still helps him to communicate.
Lee, who lip-reads, is learning to speak better and will have another implant for the left ear within the next three years which should give him a greater hearing ability. “I can hear the impact of the ball now but I can also hear the noises from the fans and telephones!” he smiled.
Thongchai, a record holder of 13 titles after last week’s triumph, hit all 18 greens but took 33 putts to settle for a 68. “The greens are quite tricky. I missed a few in the last few holes but this is golf,” he said.
Photo - Asian Tour
Asian Tour GolfGreedy.com