By The Nation
Leong, who was down with a fever on Tuesday night, recovered just in time to post a commendable round highlighted by one eagle and six birdies, matching the day’s efforts of Chinese Taipei’s Hung Chien-yao and Justin Quiban of the Philippines at the Damai Golf and Country Club.
Asian Tour Order of Merit leader Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand reeled in six birdies in-a-row en route to his opening 65, which placed him in fourth place alongside Japan’s Daisuke Kataoka and Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines.
"I started off pretty slow but got hot in the middle and slowed down again. I hit it really good in the middle of the round. Didn’t really maintain it but I will try and get it back tomorrow. It was nice to shoot six birdies in a row," said Jazz, the world No 56, the highest ranked player in the field.
"I was just trying to hit it close and give myself a lot of opportunities. I managed to take advantage of it. I remember playing good on the first day yesterday. I don’t really have a number to shoot in mind. I will just play hole by hole," added the Thai No 1 player.
Thai veteran Prayad Marksaeng produced the shot of the day when his five-iron tee shot found the bottom of the cup on the par-three 14th hole from 202 yards. It was the 14th ace he has recorded in his illustrious career.
The 53-year-old Prayad signed for an eventual 68 to tie in 30th position alongside a host of players including Australian Scott Hend, who turns 46 years old today, at the full-field event, which is celebrating its second edition on the Asian Tour this week.
The Sarawak Championship is supported by the Sarawak State government. It is also the Tour’s second stop in Malaysia this season.
Scores after round 1 of the Sarawak Championship being played at the par 72, 6970 Yards Damai GC course (am - denotes amateur):
64 - Ben Leong (MAS), Hung Chien-yao (TPE), Justin Quiban (PHI).
65 - Daisuke Kataoka (JPN), Jazz Janewattananond (THA), Miguel Tabuena (PHI).
66 - Settee Prakongvech (THA), Sadom Kaewkanjana (THA), Terry Pilkadaris (AUS), Trevor Simsby (USA), Nicholas Latimer (USA), Andrew Dodt (AUS), Richard T. Lee (CAN), Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA), Shinichi Mizuno (JPN), Naras Luangphetcharaporn (THA).
67 - Danny Masrin (INA), Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND), Danthai Boonma (THA), Kemarol Baharin (MAS), Nitithorn Thippong (THA), K.P. Lin (TPE), Tomoharu Otsuki (JPN), Aadil Bedi (IND), Liu Yanwei (CHN), Xiao Bowen (CHN), Jack Harrison (ENG), Natipong Srithong (THA), Jesse Yap (SIN).