Philippines Powers Into Lead

Wed 26 Aug 2009

Philippines Powers Into Lead


Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, August 26: The Philippines produced a superb fourball performance to take a commanding four-stroke lead after the first round of the Omega Mission Hills World Cup Asian Qualifier on Wednesday.


Mars Pucay and Angelo Que, both Asian Tour regulars, combined effectively for an 11-under-par 60 to take a comfortable lead over Singapore's Lam Chih Bing and Mardan Mamat, who carded a 64 at the Seri Selangor Golf Club.


Malaysia's Danny Chia and Iain Steel and Hong Kong's David Freeman and Wong Woon Man are in tied third on 66. The top three teams after four rounds will qualify for the World Cup in China later in November.


Pucay and Que, who teamed up for the first time last year and finished top-10 in the World Cup, sank 11 birdies including two chip-in birdies on the 15th and 16th holes by Pucay.


"Angelo had a tough putt on the 15th so I told myself I needed to sink my shot which I did. What I didn't know was that I would do it again on the next hole! That was a personal record for me," said a delighted Pucay.


Que, a two-time winner on the Asian Tour, is not taking their big lead lightly. "We've got a four-shot cushion but it is only the first round, so nothing is confirmed. We are just going to stick to the game plan and keep making pars as that will be the key for this week," said Que.


Lam and Mardan,who last qualified for the World Cup in 2006 at Seri Selangor, enjoyed an excellent front nine with six birdies but dropped a bogey on the 13th hole. But they bounced back with a birdie on the 16th hole and are now banking on their experience in tomorrow's tougher format, the foursomes (alternate shot) to catch the Filipinos.


"The Philippines played awesome as we didn't think anyone would get to double digits, with some of the pins being the way they were. But it was a solid round of golf from us. As long as we're up there after four days, we'll be happy. I have played with Mardan so many times so we should be okay for the foursomes tomorrow," said Lam.


Mardan, who has played in three World Cups  with Lam, conceded he wasn't at his best form. "I didn't feel totally comfortable with the way I played. I need to sharpen up and put in a bit of practice later. We were really relaxed out there on the front nine but struggled on one hole and lost our focus there. We managed to come back with a birdie and parred the last hole which is quite good," said Mardan.


Steel and Chia combined for six birdies against a lone bogey as they launched their bid to guide Malaysia into their first World Cup in eight years.


"I hit the ball pretty decent although I didn't hole many putts. Overall I am quite happy with our game. The strategy tomorrow will be a bit different and I will probably hit a lot of three woods and irons to keep the ball in play. The main thing is to keep our tee shots in play and see how it goes from there," said Chia, who featured in World Cup in 2000 and 2001.


Steel, chasing a first World Cup appearance, said: "We could have played a lot better but we will take our score of five-under. We left a few shots out there but there is a long way to go. It is a lot more difficult tomorrow but we are looking forward to it. We scored pretty well and we have to focus on the positives and not the negatives."


Hong Kong produced the biggest surprise of the day as they took a share of third position with Malaysia. "I think we've got a good chance and if I can get my game going, we have a very good chance. Wong played really well today and he made everything. We should have been in third place but dropped back to fourth after the bogey on the 18th," said Freeman, who is a teaching professional at the Hong Kong Golf Club.


"This is my third time trying and each time I have missed out by about a shot so it obviously will mean a lot to me and Wong if we are able to finish in the top three this week," added Freeman.

The Omega Mission Hills World Cup Asian Qualifier is supported by One World Hotel, Srixon and 100Plus.

First round scores:
60 - Philippines (Mars PUCAY, Angelo QUE)
64 - Singapore (LAM Chih Bing, Mardan MAMAT)
66 - Hong Kong (David FREEMAN, WONG Woon Man), Malaysia (Danny CHIA, Iain STEEL)
67 - Myanmar (Zaw MOE, Soe Kyaw NAING)
68 - Pakistan (Muhammad SHABBIR, Muhammad MUNIR)
69 - Indonesia (Maan NASIM, SARMILIH), Bangladesh (Milon AHMED, Siddikur RAHMAN)
70 - Nigeria (Christian UTUBOR, Edet UMOH), Sri Lanka (Lalith KUMARA, Anura ROHANA)
74 - Brunei (Faiz DAMIT, Pengiran HASSANAL)
74 - Ghana (Theophilus KODJO, Emos KORBLAH)
77 - Mauritius (Rajesh MOHUN, Jocelyn SAVRIMOOTOO)
82 - Nepal (Ramesh NAGARKOTI, Pashupati SHARMA)


Note: The first and third rounds will use the fourball format while the second and final rounds will use the foursomes format.

About the Asian Tour

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