#MaybankChampionship Rd 1 What They Said

Thu 09 Feb 2017

#MaybankChampionship Rd 1 What They Said

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Marc Warren (Sco) – First Round 63 (-9)
“Obviously it was good today, it was a good tee time nice and early before the wind picks up. I got off to a really nice start, six under for the first nine holes. Once the wind picked up on the back nine it was just a case of staying solid and hitting the greens.
“It was a bit of a battle on the last hole there, the tee shot was plugged in the bunker but it was nice to make five.
“I didn’t actually hit a great tee shot on the eighth, I pulled it left and I was actually on the ninth fairway. It was quite a long way up though so I managed to hit a five wood to about 15 feet and it was anice bonus after that tee shot.
“More of the same tomorrow. My iron play was very good today and recently I have been making a lot of birdies but a lot of mistakes as well. It was nice to get around without a bogey.
“It is a tough golf course, especially with the wind and the heat and everything else, and grainy greens too. If you shoot a score of nine under you’re putting really well so I’ll take a lot of confidence from today and move on to tomorrow.
“My short irons were really good and I hit a lot of shots to the right parts of the greens. It’s nice to keep it on the right side of the hole, that allowed me to be aggressive on the greens and I obviously converted a few today.
“The greens were soft and the ball’s pretty much stopping where it lands. Once you’re on the green it’s not just a matter of reading the slope, it’s reading the grain as well. I did a good job of that today.
“Last week I made 11 birdies in two days missed the cut so it’s just a matter of trying to keep the positive stuff going, making the birdies, and cutting out the slack stuff which was good today.”
Phachara Khongwatmai of Thailand Phachara Khongwatmai of Thailand
Phachara Khongwatmai (Tha) – First round 65 (-7)
I’m very happy. I didn’t think I could shoot seven under. This course is a tough course. One or two under would be good and if I can make the cut, I’ll be happy. I didn’t think too much about making birdies. I wasn’t confident of putting the ball but they all went in.
I’m happy that I could keep my form steady from last year, so I’m more confident in 2017. I now feel confident playing anywhere and also my style is to be as relaxed as possible. If what I practice is right, then I will keep doing it. I’ve been practicing my putting a lot as I know putting is important to put on a score.
Singapore was a good week with a second place. Every week, I want to make the cut. Then I’m happy. I won’t force myself. If I can keep up with my good form, I will try my best to get a win on the Asian Tour this year.
Arie Irawan (Mas) – First Round 66 (-6)
Six under must be a pleasing start?
Got off to a patient start, made the right decisions and then the birdies came. Made five in a row and another one on four. Just stayed in there. I made a 16 or 18 footer on 15 and hit it to three feet on 16, hit it to four and half feet on 17 and made a nine footer at the next. On one, I made a five footer. I was putting it good and putting the ball in the right position. That’s when the birdies started.
Good to stay bogey free?
I love this golf course. I’ve played here since my junior and amateur days. It’s one of my favourite courses to play. It’s great for the tournament to come back here. To make no bogeys here is great as if you can make a lot of birdies here to be in a good position.
Did teeing off early help?
Playing early in the morning helps a lot. The greens were really good and rolled really good. It’s now getting windier and hotter. Just stick to the same routine tomorrow, sleep, wake up, stretch and warm up. Try to conserve energy as I’ll be playing in the afternoon. Need to stay hydrated.
Arie Irawan of Malaysia Arie Irawan of Malaysia
Is this reflective of how you’ve been playing of late?
I played good on the last day in Bangladesh (last week). I shot a 68 and no bogeys too. So I’m on a no bogey run for 36 holes which is good. I learned a lot from playing in Bangladesh and from playing in Qschool. Just finding ways to get better. The preparation for this week has been good. My caddie and I did a lot of good work and it helped.
How was it when you had to sit out with injury?
I had a shoulder injury over a year ago, I’ve got a metal plate in here (pointing to right shoulder). It’s fine. It pinches sometimes but it’s fine.
Was it hard being away from the game?
It was a blessing in disguise actually to have had this injury as it gave me time to reflect on life, to reflect on golf and on everything. I still love playing this game and I just said let’s go have fun. I’m lucky to be playing the game. This is an injury which my doctor said was the best injury to have. It could have been worse. It’s not like what Shaaban (Hussin) had gone through (where his left leg below the knee was amputated after a motorbike accident last year). I pray for Shaaban and everything he’s done for Malaysian golf and for Maybank. He’s done a lot. It’s sad to say what happened to him. So what I went through is nothing compared to what he is going through now.
Danny Willett (Eng) – First Round 66 (-6)
“It was good, it's always nice to get out early when you're in Malaysia. It was still roasting hot this morning but the wind stays calm for the first hour or so and allows you to get some shots in there nice and close. The wind picked up a bit towards the end and it plays a little trickier around here.
Danny Willet of England Danny Willet of England
"When it's this hot and the wind is swirling, if you can make it as stress-free as possible it's a little bit easier. You get frustrated out here and it becomes a long old day. Happy with the start.
"Every time you come here, it's not a week to get frustrated with anything if you can help it. Every single little bit of energy you've got needs to go in to trying to hit the right shot so yuo've got talk through things well and get a picture in your head.
"(Caddie) Johnny has been around a few yars now and he knows what he's doing so when it's these conditions, me and him work really well.
"Around a golf course like this you need to be in the fairways to be able to get close to these flags and I rolled in a couple of putts. It was relatively stress free for six under which is always nice.
"You can play it really aggressive off the tee or you can play it a little bit more conservative. I took a little bit of middle ground there, hit three wood a good bit off the tee and when I fancied it and the wind picked up a little bit I hit a couple of drivers and got them in play a little bit further down.
"I sweat a lot when it's cold so this brings everyone to my level sweating-wise. It's better being this way round than being cold because it helps the back, it helps the body to move a little bit better."
"It's not been the start I would have wanted to the season with how things have been but we're still doing the same, still working hard, still training hard, not trying to do anything different. We're not trying to change the shot shape to fit the golf course.
“We played it last year and played it pretty well with the fade. We're just trying to get the confidence levels up to where they have been and start hitting some good golf shots again. Today was nice because we took what we've been working on to the golf course and played some good stuff."
Sam Brazel (Aus) – First round 66 (-6)
It was good. I played nice but had some sloppy bogeys in there. That’s how it goes sometimes. I played nicely. I was lucky to play some nice golf in patches and lucky to roll in a few putts. Conditions were pretty good. It’s getting a bit windier now but it’s a bit soft on the foot due to the rain.
Just be patient. There’re scoring opportunities out there but there are tough holes too. You’ve got to ride the tough ones out and hopefuly make a score on the other ones. Just go do my thing, one shot at a time.
It was really good to roll in a few nice putts in on 16 and 17. Obviously a nice third shot into the 18 (par five) where you make your score when you can get on a roll.
After Hong Kong, we were really busy. Took a lot of energy out of me. I’m lucky enough to have Tony Carolan now on the bag and we’re starting to gel really nicely. He tells me to do something, I just follow. The middle east was an eye opening, some great courses which suit my eye a little bit but being a rookie out there was a bit tough. It’s a next level up and I’m just enjoying my time. Still plugging away and nothing has really changed I guess.
Hong Kong was an amazing week in so many aspects. I played really nice and got a lot of luck on Saturday and Sunday which was great. To win, you’ve got to have a lot of things go your wide. Just ride with it, go with the good and the bad.
Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind) – First Round 66 (-6)
I hit the ball really well and gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities. I think I hit 15 greens in regulation today and had some really close birdies. Drove it really well. Missed some shots in the middle of the round but after that the game was coming back on track. Just the first day and I’m feeling positive for the week.
I’ve been driving it good lately, hitting a lot of fairways. And I’ve been giving myself a lot of birdie opportunities which is the key factor this week. Greens here are small and if you’re on the green, you have good chance of scoring.
I played a few times here as an amateur and early on in as a pro. It’s thrilling they’ve added new holes on eight and nine and it suits the guys who drive the ball well and can shape their second shots. I’m glad we’re back in Saujana.
It wasn’t that easy on the back nine, the winds were out there. It was swirling on the last four holes which made it difficult to adjust the yardage. 18 wasn’t an easy layup shot.
Soomin Lee (Kor) – First round 67 (-5)
It was exciting today. Last three weeks, I didn’t play good. I like Malaysian golf courses. Last year, I finished second in this tournament and then I won in China after that. I’ve also finished third in Hong Kong. If I make it good for the second and third round, maybe I will have a chance.
I just didn’t feel comfortable in the last few weeks in the Middle East. Over here, I find that my concentration is a bit better. I practiced hard with my putting as well the past few days as the last three weeks, I struggled with my putter.
The experience last year helped. I played well in this tournament last year and I was also very nervous when I was in contention in China. When I am nervous, I tend to miss the short putts. So I practiced really hard on my short putts. Worked on my putting when I’m nervous. Just stick to my routine.
Here, I just focus to keep it on the fairways and keep on greens. There weren’t much winds today and the greens and fairways are soft which makes it easier to play.
Gavin Green (Mas) – First Round 68 (-4)
Gavin Green of Malaysia Gavin Green of Malaysia
I got off to quite a slow start. I birdied the first hole but couldn’t get comfortable with the driver for a while. I found a little something to keep the ball in play. I gave myself a lot of looks, made some and missed some.
I gave myself a lot of looks. I was comfortable and not pressured. I stayed really calm and went with my game plan. I kept everything in play, hit a lot of two irons and when I needed to I pulled out my driver.
I used my driver on eight, nine, three, 11 and 18. I can hit driver a lot on this course but not on the first day. When I need to push, then I might do it but overall I think this plan has been working pretty well. I’m trust my irons and how the ball is shaping.
Oh yes, I would have taken this score at the start of the week. This is not an easy course. It is tough to read the greens. I was caught a couple of times. My second shot on the eighth hole hit the pin and I had a 15-foot eagle putt but missed it. That was my highlight.
Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) – First Round 68 (-4)
I’m really pleased. Started with a bogey but brought it back to two under after nine. I hit a lot of good shots on the back nine and made some putts. I’m happy. It’s a big event and I really wanted to start well. Just have to build on from here. I’ve been playing well the last few weeks. Try to keep up the good work and I’ll be fine.
Shubhankar Sharma of India Shubhankar Sharma of India
Coming here, I was really tired. Pretty much slept all Sunday and Monday. Got to the course on Tuesday to prepare.
I’ve worked really hard in the off season. Practiced a lot and very happy that I’ve got off to a good start in the first three events. I’m hitting the ball better than last season. I’ve more confidence than the last few years playing on the Asian Tour. It’s starting to feel like I belong here and I’m starting to play better.
We’re all like family. It’s great to talk like Arjun, Jyoti, Jeev, Rahil, they are all forthcoming and have good advice to give as they’ve been playing for a long time. It’s great to play practice rounds with them too.
What they keep saying is that you have to play for a very long time. There’s no point in taking too much pressure. You just go out and enjoy yourself. Once you get comfortable on Tour, it becomes easier. That’s what I’m beginning to feel now. I’m much more comfortable and calm on the first day.
The eagle on eight?
That shot almost went in. I hit a rescue that just went by the  hole. It was 230 yards to the pin and into the wind. Came out absolutely perfect with a slight draw towards the hole.
End.