Kiradech Takes Early Lead

Wed 05 Aug 2009

Kiradech Takes Early Lead


Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, August 5: Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat seized the early lead at the rain-interrupted Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters when he shot a six-under-par 65 on Wednesday.

The burly 20-year-old, who is competing in his rookie season on the Asian Tour, holds a one-shot lead from South Africa's James Kamte at Seri Selangor Golf Club in the RM1 million (US$300,000) event.

Shaaban Hussin, playing on his home course, flew Malaysia's flag with a bogey-free 67 to lie in a share of fourth place with another South African Jbe Kruger.

Starting from the 10th tee, Kiradech started strongly by sinking three consecutive birdies from the 11th hole. He followed up with another birdie on the 15th hole before play was suspended due to a lightning storm at 9.25am.

After play resumed slightly an hour later, Kiradech lost momentum and dropped a shot on the 17th hole but recovered superbly with a birdie on the first hole followed by another three birdies on the trot from the fourth hole.

"I am happy with my game today. I just came back from Japan last week and wasn't doing too good. But this week everything is good and I feel at home in Malaysia as the course is almost similar the golf course back in Thailand," said Kiradech.

The powerful Kamte, winner of the Asian Tour International in Thailand early this season, played alongside Kiradech and matched his rival blow-for-blow with four birdies, one eagle and one bogey.

The South African encountered a bizarre incident on the 16th green upon the resumption of play when an over-enthusiastic course worker blew his golf ball off the green with a leaf blower.

"I hit my second shot onto the 16th green and when I was giving my caddie the club, I heard this blowing sound and there was this guy blowing the leaves and my ball was among the leaves and it started rolling out of the green! Luckily a few TV guys saw the incident and I got a relief from the rules official and replaced my ball on the green," said Kamte.

After enjoying his first top-10 on the Asian Tour in Brunei last week, Shaaban maintained his good form with four birdies on the card. The former Malaysian amateur number one, who has been the club's touring professional for the past six years, took advantage of his local knowledge to feature on the leaderboard.

"My iron shots saved me a lot today. My target this week is to win but I don't want to put too much pressure on myself and I will focus more on my putting tomorrow," said Shaabanv, who carded birdies on the fifth, 13th, 15th and 18th holes. 

Round one is still in progress.