Sarawak, Malaysia, October 4: Young Thai Nirun Sae-Ueng wielded a hot putter to sign for a bogey-free six-under-par 66, grabbing the opening round lead by one shot at the PGM MNRB Championship on Wednesday.
The 22-year-old Nirun, a one-time winner on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) in 2015, highlighted his flawless card with six birdies, including three consecutive ones from the first, to take his place atop the leaderboard at the Damai Golf and Country Club.
Malaysia’s Kiishaan Tharmalingam posted a 67 to sit in second place while Scotland’s James Byrne trailed by two shots in third at the RM200,000 (approx. US$44,600) event, co-sanctioned by the ADT and the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour.
ADT Order of Merit leader Masaru Takahashi of Japan returned with a 69 to tie in fourth place alongside American Blake Snyder, Thai duo Poosit Supupramai and Puk Pradittan in what is the 13th leg of the ADT schedule this season.
Starting from the 10th hole, Nirun fired two birdies to turn in 34 before adding four birdies on his way home for a commendable round where he needed just 26 putts around the greens.
“I hit very good tee shots today and I putted well. I had a couple of mistakes out there but I made some good saves as well. My first birdie of the day came on the 13th hole where I chipped in from the back of the green some 13 yards away. That got my game going,” said Nirun.
“I wasn’t able to judge the speed of the greens well on my front nine today but thankfully, it got better on my back nine. I am happy to get off to a good start and I am pleased with the way I played today. Hopefully I can continue to play like this for the next three rounds,” Nirun added.
Byrne, a two-time ADT winner, birdied all the four par-five holes to stay within striking distance of Nirun.
“I was able to hit the greens in two shots on all the par-fives and give myself birdie opportunities today. It was a pretty steady round. The grass is quite difficult here and you need to hit good shots from the roughs but overall, it’s a nice layout,” said the 28-year-old Byrne.
The leading five players on the 2017 ADT Order of Merit at the end of the season will earn playing rights on the region’s premier Tour in 2018.
All ADT events are afforded with Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) status. The winner of each tournament receives a minimum of six OWGR points while the top-six players and ties earn points on a sliding scale.
For more information on the ADT, please visit www.asiandevelopmenttour.com.
Leading first round scores:
66 - Nirun SAE-UENG (THA)
67 - Kiishaan THARMALINGAM (MAS)
68 - James BYRNE (SCO)
69 - Poosit SUPUPRAMAI (THA) , Masaru TAKAHASHI (JPN) , Blake SNYDER (USA) , Puk PRADITTAN (THA)
70 - Seungjae MAENG (USA) , John CATLIN (USA) , Sukree OTHMAN (MAS) , Johnson POH (SGP) , Roberto GALLETTI (USA) , Leunkwang KIM (MAS)
71 - Phanuvich ONCHU (THA) , Nattawat SUVAJANAKORN (THA) , Arie Irawan (MAS) , Tommy MANSUWAN (THA) , KHOR Kheng Hwai (MAS) , Mohammad WAFIYUDDIN (MAS) , Amir NAZRIN (MAS) , Farid RASHID (MAS) , Pitipat PITIMANA-ARE (THA)
About Asian Development Tour
The Asian Development Tour was launched in 2010 with the aim of creating a career pathway for professional golfers in Asia. Sanctioned by the Asian Tour, the Asian Development Tour will ultimately create a new playing platform for emerging stars from across Asia and around the world. Through the Asian Tour Qualifying School, players will qualify for the Asian Development Tour and enjoy the opportunity to hone their games and talent through a secondary circuit in Asia. Designed in the same structure as the Web.com Tour in America and European Challenge Tour, the Asian Development Tour is a stepping stone to the Asian Tour and the exciting world of international golf. The Asian Development Tour has been structured to ensure the best opportunities for its members. The leading five players on the Asian Development Tour will earn coveted Asian Tour cards for the following season, ensuring a proper career pathway for aspiring professionals. All ADT events receive Official World Golf Ranking points.