BANGKOK, Thailand: Chinese Taipei’s Hung Chien-yao broke clear of the chasing pack with an ace and a birdie in his last two holes to snatch the outright first round lead by two shots at the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship on Thursday.
Hung’s hole-in-one was the second ace he has recorded since he turned professional in 2012 and it provided the 26-year-old with the bright sparks amid the gloomy weather conditions at the Linkou International Golf and Country Club.
Hung’s opening six-under-par 66 was enough to give him a two-shot cushion over his closest rivals on a rainy day where only 11 players broke par at US$500,000 event.
Malaysia’s Ben Leong also enjoyed a promising start when he returned with a 68 to take second place while four players including China’s Xiao Bowen and Thailand’s Panuphol Pittayarat were tied for third on 69.
Having only made four cuts in 17 starts on the Asian Tour, Xiao was deeply encouraged by his first round efforts.
The Chinese, who first came into prominence with his breakthrough win on home soil last year, raced ahead with an outward 33. He mixed two birdies and two bogeys for an inward 36 which denied him the outright clubhouse lead in the morning.
Panuphol, who underwent a Lasik eye surgery recently, stayed in the hunt for his third Asian Tour victory and reveled in the rain with four birdies and a bogey for a 68.
Did you know?
– Hung Chien-yao’s first hole-in-one was recorded at the Resorts World Manila Masters in 2015. His second professional ace was carded from 177-yards with an eight-iron today
– Hung Chien-yao finished tied-10th in his last Yeangder TPC appearance in 2016.
– His best result this season was a tied-20th finish at the Sarawak Championship in July.
– Hung has yet to win on the Asian Tour but has one Asian Development Tour (ADT) title which he won on home soil in 2013.
– Ben Leong’s best result this season was a tied-10th finish at the Panasonic Open Golf Championship in Japan in April. Out of 14 starts on the Asian Tour, he has missed five cuts.
– As an amateur, Ben dominated the Malaysian amateur circuit and spent several years in the United States on a government scholarship where he was attached to the David Leadbetter Golf Academy in Florida.
– He qualified for the prestigious US Amateur Championship in 2005 and 2006.
– Panuphol Pittayarat is playing in his eighth season on the Asian Tour.
– He broke into the world’s top-200 for the first time in his career after claiming a one-shot victory on his home course at the Thai Country Club.
– Panuphol turned professional in 2007 at a young age of 14 and was nicknamed ‘Coconut’ by his parents.
– Bowen Xiao has never competed outside China before winning the Asian Golf Championship last year.
– He is the third Chinese player, after Lianwei Zhang and Wenchong Liang, to win on the Asian Tour.