UNHERALDED TSUKADA TAKES CLUBHOUSE LEAD AT ISPS HANDA
Singapore: Japan’s Yosuke Tsukada credited his positive attitude after grabbing the first round clubhouse lead following a five-under-par 65 at the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic on Thursday.
The 26-year-old Japanese mixed seven birdies against two bogeys to take a single shot lead over Malaysia’s Danny Chia, countryman Daisuke Kataoka and Thai veteran Thaworn Wiratchant, who returned with matching 66s for equal second place at Orchid Country Club.
Chinese Taipei’s Wang Ter-chang rolled back the years with a 67 to take a share of fifth place with six other players including Myanmar’s Nay Bala Win Myint and South Africa’s Jbe Kruger at the US$300,000 full field event which is also focusing on relief and rebuilding efforts in Japan following the tsunami and earthquake tragedies earlier this year.
Six players will have to return at 8.00am local time Friday to finish their first round after a lightning forced a 75-minute suspension in the afternoon. Tsukada, who is featuring in only his second Asian Tour event, attributed his early lead to his positive state of mind.
“I just enjoy playing golf and making friends here on the Asian Tour. It’s a tough course but just being able to go out there and enjoy myself on the golf course has helped to keep me at the top of my game today,” said Tsukada, who missed out on his Tour card after finishing outside the top-40 in Qualifying School in January.
“It’s a good initiative from the organisers to donate US$100,000 to the relief efforts in Japan. We are slowly rebuilding the country after the tragedy,” added the Japanese. Tsukada started strongly with an opening birdie on the par four 10th hole.
He bogeyed the 15th hole but made a quick recovery with two more birdies on the 16th and 17th holes. After reaching the turn in 32, the Japanese cruised home in his inward nine with four more birdies on holes one, two, six and nine but not before picking up another bogey on the fifth hole.
“I started in the morning and it was not too windy, so that helped a lot. The winds picked up later in the day but it was still manageable as I told myself to hit one shot at a time,” said Tsukada. Thaworn continued to show why he is one of Asia’s best when he kept up his charge for his 13th title.
But he acknowledged that the revamped Orchid course has made his title bid tougher. “There’re many tough holes this week. 14 and 18 are also really difficult. 18 was against the wind and I think that’s the most difficult hole that I’ve played in my life,” said the 44-year-old veteran.
“I always aim to win at every event that I play in. But I can’t expect to win as there are many things to think about, the course conditions and how I feel. Also, it would also depend on the course if it fits me,” added Thaworn. Chia, Malaysia’s first winner on the Asian Tour when he won the 2002 Taiwan Open, showed resilience in his round of seven birdies against three bogeys.
“The stats will show I only hit two fairways but most of the drives were in play. I hit my irons quite solid and made some really good putts although I missed a two-footer,” said Chia. “It was my usual round, a bit of a roller-coaster but the good thing was that I was composed throughout the round.
Each time I made a mistake, I would come back straight away,” added the Malaysian. Wang, a four-time Asian Tour winner, showed some of his old magic. The 49-year-old has been away from the game the past few years due to a wrist injury.
“These par fours are too long, they are good for the young boys but not for an old man like me. However, I still managed to hole a long birdie putt from about 30 feet on the 16th hole which was the best one of the day,” said Wang.
“I’ve not played much the last two years as I’ve been struggling with a wrist injury. As you can see, it’s still a bit swollen and there is occasional pain when I play. I’m trying to keep fit as I turn 50 next year and I may try out for the Champions (Seniors) Tour in the US,” added Wang.
The ISPS Handa Singapore Classic will be beamed live on the Asian Tour’s television platform of over 200 nations and 850 million homes during the weekend rounds.
Leading first round scores65 - Yosuke TSUKADA (JPN).66 - Danny CHIA (MAS), Thaworn Wiratchant (THA), Daisuke KATAOKA (JPN).67 - Andy CHOI (KOR), Corey HARRIS (USA), Berry HENSON (USA), Bala Win Myint NAY (MYN), WANG Ter-chang (TPE), Jbe KRUGER (RSA), Prom MEESAWAT (THA).68 - Jonathan MOORE (USA), Miles TUNNICLIFF (ENG), Juvic PAGUNSAN (PHI), Pijit PETCHKASEM (THA), Michael BIBAT (PHI), Himmat RAI (IND), Tim STEWART (AUS), Kalle SAMOOJA (FIN), Elmer SALVADOR (PHI).69 - Deng Shan KOH (SIN), Tjaart VAN DER WALT (RSA), Shakhawat SOHEL (BAN), Mandeo PATHANIA (IND), Zaw MOE (MYN), Shaaban HUSSIN (MAS), Chinnarat PHADUNGSIL (THA), Scott BARR (AUS), Jaakko MAKITALO (FIN), Sattaya SUPUPRAMAI (THA), Adam GROOM (AUS), Poosit SUPUPRAMAI (THA), Anura ROHANA (SRI).
Selected scores71 – LAM Chih Bing (SIN), Quincy QUEK (SIN)72- Peter KARMIS (RSA), Mardan MAMAT (SIN)
Photo - Asian Tour
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