Crowded at the Top

Thu 09 Feb 2012

Crowded at the Top


Manila, February 9: Unheralded Lu Tze-shyan of Chinese Taipei was the unlikeliest of names to join a leaderboard logjam after the first round of the US$300,000 ICTSI Philippine Open on Thursday.

The 31-year-old Lu, who has made two cuts in 26 starts on the Asian Tour, battled to a three-under-par 69 late in the day to make it a six-way tie with Singaporean Mardan Mamat, Japan’s Azuma Yano and Americans Matthew Rosenfeld, Ben Fox and Anthony Kang, a former Philippine Open champion, at the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club’s East course.

Filipino veteran Frankie Minoza, chasing a third Open win, newcomer Charles Hong and Mars Pucay led the local brigade with identical 70s to lie one back with talented Thai Thanyakon Khrongpha and Qualifying School graduates James Byrne of Scotland and Australian Wade Orsmby.

Lu, the nephew of multiple Asian Tour winner Lu Wen-teh, was five-under with four holes to play but dropped two late bogeys to fall back into the joint lead in Asia’s oldest national championship, which is being beamed live on the Asian Tour’s global television platform which reaches over 200 countries.

“I putted well. Holed quite a few 10 foot putts and some long ones. Overall, I played okay. I saw that I was leading and I was happy. But I got a bit nervous as well. On the third hole (his 12th), the TV cameras started to follow me. This is the first time I’m playing well on the Asian Tour and I wasn’t used to it,” said Lu, who started his round with four straight birdies from the 12th holes and needed only 25 putts throughout the round.

A career first top-10 last season has provided the inspiration for Lu to try to emulate his famous uncle, who holds five wins on the region’s elite circuit. Wen-teh waited at the clubhouse to give the joint leader a pat on the back after the younger Lu completed his round.

“I caddied for my uncle on Tour for three years from 2007 to 2009 and I learned a lot. His technique, the way he thinks on the golf course is very good. It was very good experience. I will treat tomorrow as another normal day,” he said.

The 44-year-old Mardan, a two-time winner on the Asian Tour, said words of advice from Filipino great Minoza helped him tame the notorious East course, which yielded only 19 under par rounds today.


“As you know, the course is not playing easy. You need a lot of patience. I had dinner with Frankie on Tuesday and he’s got a lot of experience playing on this course. He said to be patient and to expect that things are going to happen. That’s good advice as I’ve not played here for a long time,” said Mardan, whose five birdies were from close range.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for this golf course. I hit it good and I’m glad I holed some putts today. Hopefully, the next three days will be the same," aidded the Singapore, who scrambled well after finding only 11 greens in regulation at the tough East course.

Yano, a three-time Japan Tour winner and playing on a sponsor’s invite, shot six birdies against three bogeys. Like Mardan, he said playing defensively at Wack Wack is the key to a good score. “With the small greens, you’ve got to hit good shots. It’s tough to get birdies as the greens have some slopes on them,” said Yano.

Rosenfeld was delighted to be in the mix, especially after overhauling his golf swing just two weeks before a third visit to the Asian Tour Qualifying School in January. He said he was hitting “shanks” with the new swing prior to regaining his playing rights in Asia.

“I got the juices flowing out there a little bit. I’ve not had a good start in a little while. The key is not getting too upset,” said the American.

After enduring a “bad” year in 2011, Rosenfeld opted for a new swing coach and the results have been encouraging. “It worked today but there are some loose shots out there. It’s a 180 degree change from what I was doing before. First week, I was shanking it six out of 10 shots. We had to bring it back down as I was going to Q-school. I’m probably about 15 or 20 percent of what I’m supposed to be doing,” he said.


Some 13 years after securing his maiden Tour victory at the Philippine Open, Kang was back in the hunt once more thanks to four birdies against a lone bogey. “It’s very special. Every time I come back, I feel this is basically the place where it all started,’ said Kang, who finished top-10 at the season-opening event in Myanmar last week.

“Before I went out, I talked to Mo Joong-kyung and he told me to make lots of pars and that was my plan. I got off to a fast start with birdies on the first two holes and played solid. Just hitting greens and fairways which made the round a lot easier. It was nice.”

Scores after round 1 of the The Asian Tour - ICTSI Philippine Open being played at the par 72, 7,222 Yards Wack Wack GCC East course (a- denotes amateur):

69 - Azuma YANO (JPN), Mardan MAMAT (SIN), Matthew ROSENFELD (USA), Anthony KANG (USA), Ben FOX (USA), LU Tze-shyan (TPE).

70 - Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA), Charles HONG (PHI), James BYRNE (SCO), Mars PUCAY (PHI), Frankie MINOZA (PHI), Wade ORMSBY (AUS), Atthaphon PRATHUMMANEE (THA).

71 - Sam CYR (USA), Miguel TABUENA (PHI), KIM Gi-whan (KOR), Antonio LASCUNA (PHI), Digvijay SINGH (IND), Paul DONAHOO (AUS).

72 - CHAN Shih-chang (TPE), Jason KNUTZON (USA), Jhonnel ABABA (PHI), Joonas GRANBERG (FIN), LU Wei-chih (TPE), Elmer SALVADOR (PHI), Thitiphun CHUAYPRAKONG (THA), Darren BECK (AUS), Marcus BOTH (AUS), Ferdinand AUNZO (PHI), MO Joong-kyung (KOR), Thammanoon SRIROJ (THA), Poosit SUPUPRAMAI (THA).


About the ICTSI Philippine Open

As Asia’s oldest national Championship, the ICTSI Philippine Open is no doubt one of the most prestigious Opens on the Asian Tour calendar. It is title sponsored by the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI), which is in the business of acquiring, developing and operating container ports and terminals worldwide. Other sponsors include HSBC (Official Bank), Panasonic Philippines (Official Co-Sponsor), Globe Telecom (Official Roaming & Telecommunications Sponsor), San Miguel (Official Co-Sponsor), Cathay Pacific (Official Airlines), OMEGA (Official Timekeeper) and BlackBerry (Official Smartphone and Tablet Partner).


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 Rolex (Official Timekeeper), J.Lindeberg (Apparel Partner), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and Resorts), Cityneon (Official Event Overlay Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Singha Beer (Official Beer), BlackBerry (Official Smartphgone and Tablet Partner) and Srixon (Official Ball). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.