Mardan and Kataoka share Manila lead

Thu 20 Nov 2014

Mardan and Kataoka share Manila lead

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Daisuke Kataoka of Japan Daisuke Kataoka of Japan
Manila, November 20: Singapore’s veteran Mardan Mamat and Daisuke Kataoka of Japan overcame gusty winds to post seven-under-par 65s and share the first round lead at the US$1 million Resorts World Manila Masters presented by 918.com on Thursday.
The 47-year-old Mardan, a three-time Asian Tour winner, was rock solid at the Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club, hitting all but one green in regulation which yielded eight birdies against a lone bogey.
Kataoka, 26, needed only 25 putts in his seven-birdie round as he put himself in contention for a maiden Asian Tour victory in what is the richest golf tournament in the Philippines.
Reigning Asian Tour number one Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand and seasoned Malaysian campaigner Danny Chia carded 66s to trail by one while 2011 Order of Merit champion Juvic Pagunsan led the Philippine charge with a 67 to share fifth place with American Anthony Kang, Chinese Taipei’s Hung Chien-yao and Aussie duo Terry Pilkadaris and Sam Brazel.
Title holder Liang Wen-chong of China birdied two of his last three holes to salvage a 71 while last year’s runner-up Prom Meesawat of Thailand, the highest ranked player in the field, settled for a 73.
201114_RWMM_Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 21Languishing in 74th position on the Order of Merit, Mardan, winner of the 2012 Philippine Open, was delighted with his ball striking in tough afternoon conditions. “I hit the ball solid from tee to green and managed to hole some putts. It’s not easy out there, especially on the front nine where it was really windy,” said Mardan, who finished tied 25th at the Chiangmai Golf Classic presented by PTT last week.
“I’m trying to not think about keeping my card. It’s not the end of the world for me if I don’t make it into top-60 on the Order of Merit. I want to enjoy my golf. It’s always nice to come back to the Philippines, especially since I won the Philippine Open two years back. I’ve got nice memories here.”
Kataoka, who has two previous top-10s in the Philippines, feels right at home in his Resorts World Manila Masters debut. “I seem to score well in the Philippines,” said the young Japanese.
“My tee shots were always on the fairway and second shots were always on the green. And my putting was very good. I had good touch today.”
Danny Chia of Malaysia Danny Chia of Malaysia
Big-hitting Kiradech, playing for the first time as a professional in the Philippines, fired an eagle and four birdies at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Masters course to move into contention for a third Asian Tour victory.
The 25-year-old Kiradech took full advantage of his length on the par five 18th hole where he sank a simple four-foot putt for eagle. “My ball striking was really good,” said the burly Thai. “I was actually hesitating if I should play this week because my knee is not feeling too good. I only decided on Monday to play but I will try my best and we will see how it goes.”
Chia missed last year’ s inaugural Resorts World Manila Masters through an injury layoff but his caddie Mohamed Ali worked for Liang, who won the title via a play-off. The Malaysian joked that his bagman nearly cost him some shots in a round that included seven birdies against a lone bogey.
“He nearly cost me a few,” laughed Chia, who is currently ranked 54th on the Merit list and was top-10 in Chiangmai last week. “I’m hitting it solid. I have been playing well. I found something in my swing last week but I’m not going to tell you what it is. It’s a secret.
““It helps a lot to be on form at this time of the year. Hopefully I can keep up the good form and secure a good result this week.”
Smooth-swinging Pagunsan was bogey-free as he stayed within touching distance of the leaders. He birdied three of the four par fives and believes he has a good chance of securing a home victory.
“It’s a really good start. I didn’t think about whether I shot birdies or bogeys. I just wanted to go out to play,” said Pagunsan. “I kept my focus on every shot, just tried to hit fairways and hit the greens and make two putts. If I got lucky, I would make a one-putt for birdie,” said Pagunsan.
“I played here three practice rounds here last week and if I have a chance to win, I’ll take it. I just need to keep my focus. It’s all about hitting good shots.”
Sponsors of the Resorts World Manila Masters include Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club, Bally Technologies, Aristocrat, International Gaming Technology, Renoir Implementation Services, Marriott, Philippine Airlines, Maybank, PLDT and Avis.
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 Abacus (Official Apparel Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Sponsor), Oakley (Official Eyewear and Footwear Sponsor), PRG (Official Accessories Supplier), Saxo Capital Markets (Official Statistics Partner), Srixon (Official Ball), Titleist (Official Web Partner) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Also, visit us at www.asiantour.com, www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf, www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf, www.youtube.com/theasiantour and www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf.