Golf: Quincy on fire

Golf: Quincy on fire
Singapore's Quincy Quek (above) is in joint-second position, one stroke behind Thailand's Panuphol Pittayarat.

A burst of cheers and applause shattered the serenity of the Masters Course of the Laguna National mid-afternoon yesterday, as the ball disappeared into the cup at the ninth hole.

Singapore's Quincy Quek, who started at the 10th tee-box, had just sunk an eight-foot putt for birdie to end the first day of The Championship at eight-under 64.

The 27-year-old's stunning round saw him finish the first round in joint-second spot, alongside Scotsman Scott Jamieson, South Korean Kim Byung Jun and American David Lipsky.

Speaking after his round, Quek said: "I could not have started any better, I was killing it out there on the greens today... I had 20 putts which I have never gotten before.

"It is quite a crazy one for me but we still have three more days to go.

"The putter was working well for me. I gave myself chances by hitting the ball closer than I normally do.

"Playing well in the first round has definitely put me in a good position going forward."

SENSATIONAL

Quek and the chasing pack were one shot off Thailand's Panuphol Pittayarat, who shot a sensational 63 to top the 156-strong field in the US$1.5 million ($1.88m) tournament, which is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the European Tour.

However, the 21-year-old could not claim a new course record - Australian Nick O'Hern shot a 64 in 2002 - because golfers were allowed preferred lies due to the wet weather.

The rule will apply for the remaining three rounds.

Said Panuphol: "It was a good day out there, the weather was good and I holed a lot of putts.

"I was just trying to hit straight out there and managed to hole a lot of putts; a lot of them were unexpected.

"I am very happy with how I played today and feeling good about my game now."

The Thai, who turned professional in 2007 at the age of 14, is still searching for his big win of his professional career, after finishing second at the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters in 2011.

Panuphol's compatriot, Arnond Vongvanij, threatened to better his countryman's score, carding six birdies after his first nine, teeing off on 10th.

The 25-year-old, nicknamed "Bank", collected three more birdies on the first, second and sixth to draw level with Panuphol but he came unstuck at the eighth when he double-bogeyed.

He eventually posted a 65 and is tied for sixth.

He said: "I got an unlucky break on the eighth. I dropped two shots there when it should have been an easy par.

"But overall I'm hitting it good and putting well so I will just try and do what I did today and hopefully get a better result tomorrow."

First round play was delayed for an hour due to a thunderstorm and 18 players will return at 7.40am today to complete their first round after fading light forced them off yesterday.

Leading scores after first round:

63 Panuphol Pittayarat

64 Scott Jamieson, David Lipsky, Kim Byung Jun, Quincy Quek

65 Mithun Perera, Kristoffer Broberg, Felipe Aguilar, Arnond Vongvanij

66 Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Prom Meesawat, Baek Seuk Hyun, Scott Barr, Moon Kyong Jun, Gregory Bourdy

67 Boonchu Ruangkit, Anirban Lahiri, Graeme Storm, Chan Kim, Chinnarat Phadungsil, Scott Hend, Anders Hansen, Jeev Milkha Singh, Victor Riu.

Selected scores

69 Lam Zhiqun

71 Mardan Mamat, Lam Chih Bing

73 Koh Dengshan

This article was published on May 2 in The New Paper.

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