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Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia: Rookie Joonas Granberg of Finland provided the fireworks with a new course record of 10-under-par 62 in the first round of the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old Qualifying School graduate holed out from the fairway for a spectacular eagle on his opening hole, the par four 10th to spark a magnificent round which included nine birdies and a bogey at Kota Permai Golf and Country Club.

His career best effort, the lowest 18-hole score on the Asian Tour this season, saw him open up a three-shot lead from South African Tjaart Van Der Walt, who returned a bogey-free 65 in the RM1.2 million (approximately US$400,000) tournament. 

American Berry Henson, winner of the ICTSI Philippine Open, started strongly with a 66 while India’s Jyoti Randhawa, Asia’s number one in 2002 and winner at Kota Permai in 2004, Korea’s Mo Joong-kyung and rising Thai star Pariya Junhasavasdikul fired 67s. 

Rashid Ismail and Solhairy Shariff were the best-placed Malaysians after 69s on a day of brilliant scoring, highlighted as well by Australian Marcus Both’s hole in one at the par three 14th.

Granberg, who improved the previous course mark by one shot, was surprised with his stunning start especially when he slept for only three hours last night due to jetlag. But after he sank a wedge approach shot at his first hole, he was wide awake and running on all four cylinders to turn in 29 with five more birdies. He came home with four more birdies against a three-putt bogey on the second.

“My feeling this morning wasn’t like this as I only slept for three hours. This is really nice, an amazing feeling. My irons were amazing on the first nine. It was always within one to three meters (of the pins). I didn’t miss anything today,” said Granberg, who has a sole top-10 at the SAIL Open in India.

“Yesterday, I didn’t have any energy at all. I was very tired. Today at the range, the feeling with the game was good. I’m not tired now but maybe tonight I will be very tired!”

The Finn knows his quest for a maiden Asian Tour title is far from over. “This is my first time leading. I’m going to take it easy. It’s only the first round. I have to play very good in the next three rounds,” said Granberg.

Van Der Walt, trying to rebuild his career in Asia after wrist and elbow injuries curtailed his career on the US PGA Tour, sank seven birdies late in the day to lead the chasing pack. “Putted well for a change,” smiled the big South African. “I’ve not been putting well all year. I’ve been working hard on all aspects of the game and finally I managed to make a few putts.

“I try to keep the wrist and elbow strong. It’s never not in any pain. I play through it. I’m just fortunate to be out here.”

He was relieved that an afternoon shower slowed down the lightning quick greens at Kota Permai. “In practice, they (greens) intimidated us as they were so quick. I think the rain might have softened them up a bit and got them to grow a bit which makes them fair.”

Henson will be looking for a third victory in as many starts in Asia after winning the Clearwater Masters in Malaysia on the Asian Development Tour and then the ICTSI Philippine Open on the Asian Tour. 

“I’m playing with a lot of confidence right now. The game feels sharp. I’m putting great and when we’re putting on greens like these, I can be very competitive. There were perfect out there,” said the Californian, who shot seven birdies against a lone bogey.

Randhawa, an eight-time winner on the Asian Tour, was delighted to soar into contention and credited a sky-diving holiday in the United States during summer for his flying start.

“I’ve not touched a club for the past month and half,” said Randhawa, who triumphed in the 2004 Volvo Masters of Asia at Kota Permai. “I’ve been sky-diving. I did some 50 jumps in America … mind off golf and now mind on golf.

“I think it works for me.  When I won the Thailand Open two years ago, I remember I was scuba diving all week. I’m now a veteran, no longer the young guy. I know what to do and how to play the game. It’s all about the mind for me now. If I can get my mental framing right, I know exactly what to do. And when the mind tells the body, the body starts to behave.”

Korea’s Mo, chasing a first win since 2008, was rock solid in his round of six birdies against a bogey. “I played pretty good … hit lots of fairways and greens. The greens are really good. If you hit it on the greens, you’ve got a good chance to make some putts,” said the Korean, who is a two-time winner.

A bogey on seventh jolted Pariya into action as he stormed home in 31. “I bogeyed seventh which gave me a sense of urgency to start my round. Back nine, I just put the ball in a better position. I took dead aim on the back nine and made a lot of putts,” said the 26-year-old, who secured a maiden victory last year in Chinese Taipei.

Scores after round one of the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters 2011 being played at the par 72, 6977 Yards Kota Permai GC course (a- denotes amateur):"

62 - Joonas GRANBERG (FIN).

65 - Tjaart VAN DER WALT (RSA).

66 - Berry HENSON (USA).

67 - Jyoti RANDHAWA (IND), Pariya JUNHASAVASDIKUL (THA), MO Joong-kyung (KOR).

68 - Kalle SAMOOJA (FIN), SIDDIKUR  (BAN), Panuwat MUENLEK (THA), Ashok KUMAR (IND), Artemio MURAKAMI (PHI), LAM Chih Bing (SIN), LIN Wen-tang (TPE), Adam GROOM (AUS).

69 - Solhairy SHARIFF (MAS), Gaurav GHEI (IND), Rashid KHAN (IND), Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA), Anirban LAHIRI (IND), Rashid ISMAIL (MAS), Thammanoon SRIROJ (THA), Young NAM (KOR), Matthew ROSENFELD (USA), Jason KING (AUS), Tim STEWART (AUS), Juvic PAGUNSAN (PHI).

Photo - Asian Tour 

Asian Tour 

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