On a warm and windless day, Malaysia’s Nick Ang Xia Ee and Thailand’s Sitipong Wiangchanok shared the first round spotlight in the Boys U21 section of Cambodia’s inaugural Faldo Series Asia event with an impressive two-under-par 70 at the Angkor Golf Resort in Siem Reap yesterday.
Teeing off from different sections in the morning, the two returned to the clubhouse with the day’s two best scores though both endured some adverse moments with their short game.
The Malaysian was seemingly steadier than his Thai challenger. Xia Ee ticked off birdies in the fifth, eighth and 16th holes but his green approach and putting let him down at the sixth, where he ended up with his only bogey of the round.
Sitipong, who ranks among Thailand’s best rising stock of young golfers, brushed aside his third hole bogey with six birdies. Up to the 14th, he held on to that splendid touch but then came a disastrous 15th where he double bogeyed. He bogeyed the next as well to let his grip on the round slacken a great deal.
Another strong Thai contestant, Thanadol Sangkoranee, produced an even par 72 to shadow the joint leaders in third place. The next best effort in a field of 10 was a 77 by Channut Buntavan.
Cambodia’s lone entry, Seng Vanseiha, who had represented the Kingdom at the Asian Games in Guangzhou and SEA Games in Indonesia last year, was further down the field with an unremarkable round of 79.
One of Cambodian Golf Federation’s long time advisers, Roger Hunt, felt that an event of this stature would have a positive impact in development of golf. When asked whether he was happy that there was at least one Cambodian competitor or sad that there were not a few more, Roger Hunt said: “We certainly need more players in such tournaments. I am happy that at least a start has been made.”
The Boys U16 event was also a tight affair with South Korea’s Kim Dong-hyun parring all 18 holes for a 72. Trailing the leader in joint second were two aggressive Thai golfers, Sirislip Phubodi and Nitithorn Thippong, with 73s.
“It was a very tight first round. An under-par score at this level of competition was really impressive. The U16 scores have also been good. We are heading for an exciting finish,” Angkor Golf Resort General Manager Adam Robertson told the Post yesterday.
Despite a rough and tumble round marred by a couple of bogeys and double bogeys, Malaysia’s Asha Lakshme Balakrishnan poached a few birdies to nearly balance the books, ending the round with a leading score of one-over-par 73 in the Girls event.
“I could have done a lot better,” was Balakrishnan’s take on the round. Her nearest rival in a small field of six is compatriot Celine Lim Shwu Ling at 76. The others shot 80s or worse.
The four-player U12 event was dominated by Malaysia’s Ng Yu Kai Victor, who heads her three rivals at 27 points in the Stableford format. One of three Barro siblings from the Phillipines, Paqo, was placed second with 20 points while his sister Laia was fourth on seven, one point behind Jerry Wijaya of Indonesia.
Professional golfer and instructor Tony Maloney, who is based in Kuala Lumpur conducted a Players Clinic at the driving range as a well-regarded side-show in the morning.