Story contributed by Zal Dastur
Lee Soo-min of South Korea plays off the 12th tee during day one of the 2011 Asian Amateur Championship at the Singapore Island Country Club. He finished the day on seven-under with a score of 65. (Photo 1 © Augusta/National/Getty Images; courtesy of Zal Dastur)
Singapore Island Golf and Country Club, Thursday, September 29, 2011 — Choo Tze Huang was the leading Singaporean after day one at the Asian Amateur Championship. He is tied in sixth place, after he posted a consistent round that included three birdies on the 2nd, 10th, 14th and finishing in style by holing a final birdie on the 18th.
He is three shots behind the leader, Korean Lee Soo-min, who is on minus four.
Tze said: “I had a really good run today with a bogey-free round. All day I was positive and patient and it paid off with three birdies on the back nine.
“It’s a competitive field out there this week but if I keep playing like this I hope to be near the top of the leader board come Sunday.”
The other nine Singapore players had mixed results after day one with Melvin Chew best of the rest with one under, and 15-year-old Marc Ong scoring an even par for the day.
Lee Soo-min stormed into first place after finishing the day on seven-under with a score of 65.
The 17-year-old Korean carded a fantastic round that included six birdies and an outstanding eagle at the 9th to take him top of the leader board after 18 holes.
However, he faces some stiff competition from a chasing pack just two shots back including Japanese defending champion Hideki Matsuyama.
Lee, currently 667th on the World Amateur Golf Rankings, takes the overnight lead after a day of damp, humid conditions that included a one-hour lightning delay just 10 minutes after the first shot was struck.
Despite the delay, all 120 players finished their rounds, with 26 carding sub-par totals on the SICC New Course.
A delighted Lee, the highest placed amateur at both the 2010 and 2011 GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship, said: “The last hole was my best. This course suits me because it is narrow and suits my playing style – I am better in my long game.
“I’m really pleased with today’s result and hope it continues until Sunday. I have my sights firmly set at a place in next year’s Masters which will keep me motivated over the next few days.”
Matsuyama, holder of the Masters Silver Cup for lowest amateur, led the following pack for second place with five-under.
The 19-year-old picked up where he left off last year, carding a score of 67, with four birdies and an eagle on the 16th.
Matsuyama is currently joined in second place by Kenneth Christian John De Silva from Malaysia, Ian Andrew from Indonesia and Ben Campbell from New Zealand, all finishing day one on 67.
De Silva said: “I played the best round ever today, and it was a good start to the tournament. I will try to keep it going for the next three days, and I will try my very best to win the Asian Amateur Championship trophy.”
An invitation to the 2012 Masters Tournament awaits the champion this week, with both the winner and the runner(s)-up earning places in International Final Qualifying for The Open Championship.
Six-time Major winner Sir Nick Faldo today praised the “vision” behind the AAC and predicted widespread Asian success on the global golfing stage in the coming decade.
The three-time Masters and Open Champion, who is in Singapore as a guest of the tournament and will speak at a private dinner for players and officials on Friday evening, also offered some advice to this week’s winner on how to make the most of the experience.
Sir Nick, who took up the game after watching the Masters on television as an impressionable 14-year-old, said: “The Masters was my inspiration into the game so I think I can tell a genuine story of how the Masters led me to start playing golf and I can at least show, or prove, to the competitors what can happen with an opportunity like this – which I think is fabulous.”
A total of 120 players from the 35 participating countries are taking part in this year’s tournament.
Hideki Matsuyama of Japan plays his second shot on the 15th hole during day one. Matsuyama is currently joined in second place by Kenneth Christian John De Silva from Malaysia, Ian Andrew from Indonesia and Ben Campbell from New Zealand, all finishing day one on 67. (Photo 2 © Augusta/National/Getty Images; courtesy of Zal Dastur)
The three-time Masters and Open Champion, Sir Nick Faldo, is in Singapore as a guest of the tournament and will speak at a private dinner for players and officials on Friday evening. (Photo 3 courtesy of Zal Dastur)