Cooke Takes Charge in Macau

Thu 10 Sep 2009

Cooke Takes Charge in Macau


Macau, September 10: Australia's Peter Cooke seized the first round lead after firing an impressive five-under-par 66 at the Macau Open 2009 on Thursday.


The 24-year-old Australian posted seven birdies against two bogeys in the US$500,000 full field Asian Tour event to take a one-stroke lead over compatriot Andrew Dodt, South Africa's Keith Horne and 10-time Asian Tour winner Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand who returned with matching 67s.


Gavin Flint of Australia together with Philippines' Angelo Que, Pariya Junhasavasdikul of Thailand and Chinese Taipei's Lin Wen-tang were among the eight players bunched together in fifth place after posting identical 68s at the par-71 Macau Golf & Country Club.


Cooke, who works as a baggage handler at the Adelaide Airport, got off to a bright start when he sank four consecutive birdies starting from the fifth hole to hold a one-stroke advantage.


"I treated the game differently as I don't feel tense out there anymore. I have to maintain my positive attitude and continue holing my putts. I have been working hard on my wedge play and it worked for me," said Cooke whose best result this year was a tied eighth place finish at the Black Mountain Masters in Thailand.


Cooke was delighted to see his name on top of the leaderboard and credited his employers for giving him the opportunity to juggle his career as a professional golfer and his job in Adelaide, Australia.


"I take most of the mornings to practice and I am lucky to be able to work in the afternoon. I just have to stay committed and not sleep in. My employers have been really supportive and they give me time off when I need it," said Cooke.


Horne, chasing his maiden title on the Asian Tour, fired four birdies in his blemish free round which included a 30 feet downhill birdie putt that kept him within a stroke of Cooke.


"I haven't been getting too many top-10s in Asia but my game has been consistent. My goal is always to try and finish more in the top-10. I've missed the big cuts this year and it has been very disappointing as I don't normally do that, so being in the top-10 is a little satisfying and it will be nice if I can make my way closer to the top position," said the 38-year-old South African.

Thaworn continued his rich vein of form from Switzerland where he finished in tied 11th at the Omega European Masters last week. The Thai posted four birdies and two bogeys as well as a magical eagle three on the par-five 18th hole where he chipped in from 42 yards.

The evergreen golfer rued his bad tee shots but was pleased with his putting which pulled his game up.

"I was feeling a little bit dizzy and sleepy as I'm still recovering from jetlag but overall I am still very pleased with my game. My putting saved my game as I only managed to hit four fairways," said the 42-year-old.

Dodt also started his round on a positive note after sinking three consecutive birdies before mixing his card with another four birdies and three bogeys.

"It was a great start. I didn't expect that because the first three holes were really tough with the wind. I have been working hard on my mental side and my short game has been letting me down. Hopefully my training can keep me in good shape for the rest of the week," said the Australian.


Meanwhile, China's Wu Ashun and Li Chao emerged as the best Chinese players in tied 13th place after the duo carded matching 69s to trail the leader by three strokes. Wu and Li are among the six players from China who are playing at this week's Macau Open.

Wu, a bright prospect to emerge from China, sank five birdies and three bogeys to keep his hopes of improving on last year's performance where he finished in tied 11th place.

"I played very well despite the windy conditions and I am looking forward to maintain my form and staying focus. I have played well here before and I will use my course knowledge to my advantage this week," said Wu who is currently in 28th position on the Asian Tour Order of Merit.

Jean Van De Velde of France posted a 70 to lie in tied 20th place while defending champion David Gleeson of Australia carded a 72 to take a share of 50th place.

Leading first round scores

66 - Peter Cooke (AUS)

67 - Keith Horne (RSA), Thaworn Wiratchant (THA), Andrew Dodt (AUS)

68 - Gavin Flint (AUS), Antonio Lascuna (PHI), Pariya Junhasavasdikul (THA),

Pasamet Pogamnerd (THA), Lin Wen-hong (TPE), Lu Wen-teh (TPE), Angelo Que (PHI), Lin Wen-tang (TPE)

69 - Wu Ashun (CHN), Li Chao (CHN), Kim Young-jin (KOR), James Kamte (RSA)

Young Nam (KOR), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA), Namchoak Tantipokakul (THA)

70 - Michael Bibat (PHI), Hsu Mong-nan (TPE), Pasi Purhonen (FIN), Chris Rodgers (ENG), Hendrik Buhrmann (RSA), Taichiro Kiyota (JPN), Lin Keng-chi (TPE), Siddikur   (BAN), Tim Stewart (AUS), Toni Karjalainen (FIN), Jean Van De Velde (FRA), Lam Chih Bing (SIN), Mardan Mamat (SIN), Somkiat Srisanga (THA), Tetsuji Hiratsuka (JPN), Pornsakon Tipsanit (THA)

Selected scores

71 - Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND)

73 - Zhang Lian-wei (CHN)


About the Macau Open
The Macau Open is celebrating its 12th anniversary this year. Supported by the Macau Sports Development Board, the tournament will be staged at the Macau Golf and Country Club from September 10-13. Former champions include Lee Westwood and Simon Dyson of England, Colin Montgomerie of Scotland, Kane Webber of Australia, two-time winner Zhang Lian Wei of China and last year's winner David Gleeson of Australia. The US$500,000 Macau Open is the 15th leg of this season's Asian Tour Schedule with Srixon (Official Ball) and Holiday Inn (Official Hotel) as its sponsors. The Asian Tour is the official regional sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia.


About the Asian Tour
As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia.  This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include ESPN Star Sports (Official Regional TV Broadcaster), Pin High (Official Apparel Partner), Ricoh (Official Office Solutions Provider) and Srixon (Official Ball). Sentosa, Singapore's premier island resort getaway, is the Home of the Asian Tour.