Wednesday, 10 March 2010
Malaysia’s Gavin Green carded a two under par 70 to share the lead with Chinese Taipei’s Hsieh Chi Hsien (pictured) and Brent Sumampong from The Philippines after the first round of the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final over the Faldo Course at Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzen, China.
Green, 16, his country’s national amateur champion, warmed up for the Grand Final by competing in last week’s Maybank Malaysian Open on the European and Asian Tours and he put that experience to good use with a fine round that included two birdies on an outward half of level par 36 and another four as he came home in 34.
Green goes into the second round of the 54-hole Grand Final tied with Hsieh and Sumampong and two shots in front of Thailand’s Thidapa Suwannapura and India’s S. “Chikka” Chikkarangappa.
Suwannapura, 17, holds a slender one shot lead over Lui Yi Chen from Chinese Taipei in the concurrent Girls’ event with her compatriot Chien Pei Yun a further four shots back after an opening round of five over par 75.
It was a mixed day for India’s Rashid Khan who arrived at Mission Hills bidding to become the first golfer to win the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final for three years in-a-row. Khan, 19, who is the current Singapore Amateur Champion, started with five straight pars over the testing 6,577-yard Faldo lay-out but dropped shots at the 197-yard par-3 6th and the 454-yard par-4 9th to go out in 38 before coming home in level par 36 with a birdie at the last.
Green was one of the favourites going into what is the fourth Faldo Series Asia Grand Final but he will have his work cut out to overcome Hsieh who won the Faldo Series qualifier in his home country and who revelled in the windy conditions at Mission Hills.
Hsieh, 19, began his round with a birdie on the 522-yard par-5 1st hole to go out in one under par 35 and also closed with a birdie on the 486-yard 18th to confirm his place in the three way tie for the lead. He was joined by Sumampong, 19, who also opened and closed with birdies on his way to producing one of the steadiest rounds of the day.
This year’s Faldo Series Asia Grand Final has attracted a strong international field including several leading junior golfers from Europe. At the end of the first round the leader of the European contingent was England’s Oliver Carr,19, from Birkenhead, who opened with a four over par 76 to share 13th place alongside Thailand’s Donlaphatchai Niyomchon.
Current English and French Under-18 champion Holly Clyburn shares fourth place in the Girls’ event after a 78 and that was also the score posted by English international Jonathan Bell who won the 2009 Faldo Series European Grand Final last October but now has it all to do if he is to repeat that feat in China.
This year’s Faldo Series Asia Grand Final attracted 75 competitors from 18 different countries. In addition to an overall prize, there are also five separate age categories, three for boys and two for girls.
The leaders in each category at the end of the first round are as follows:
Boys Under-21 – Hsieh Chi Hsien (Chinese Taipei) and Brent Sumampong (Philippines) 70, Yao Xue Feng (China) 74.
Boys Under-18 – Rashid Khan (India) 74, Khalin Joshi (India) 75, Fahmi Reza (Indonesia) 77.
Boys Under-16 – Gavin Green (Malaysia) 70, S Chikkaranggappa (India) 72, Masamichi Ito (Japan) 75.
Girls Under-21 – Thidapa Suwannapura (Thailand) 72, Chien Pei Yun 77, Holly Clyburn (England) and Yoko Ogawa (Japan) 78.
Girls Under-16 – Liu Yi Chen 73, Vivienne Chin (Malaysia) and Shi Yu Ting (China) 80.
Supported by major partners Mission Hills, The R&A and UBS, the fourth Faldo Series Asia Grand final is being played under strict tournament conditions over three rounds on the Faldo Course. Boys and girls are playing from different tees with the Faldo Series Asia challenge trophy presented by Faldo to the player with the lowest gross score, boy or girl.
Also backed by Alpine Creations, the new golf wear partner of the Faldo Series Asia, players are receiving expert advice from Faldo himself as well as other guest speakers during the tournament week.
Endorsed by the Asian Tour, the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation and the Guangdong Golf Association, the five age-category winners – three boys and two girls – will be invited by Faldo to compete in the 2010 Faldo Series European Grand Final to be staged over the Faldo Course at the Lough Erne Resort, Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, on September 21-23. The overall Asian champion, boy and girl, will also be invited to play in a flagship event on the Asian Tour and the Ladies European Tour respectively.
The Faldo Series Asia will also be initiating a number of grass roots activities around the Grand Final as part of its bid to create simultaneous access to the sport for a wider and younger audience. This includes support of the Mission Hills Junior Tour which has been launched to provide opportunities for junior golfers of all means aged nine and upwards and will act as an official feeder to Faldo Series Asia tournaments in China, including the Grand Final for its overall champions, boy and girl.
For tee times, live scores and results from the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final visit www.nickfaldo.com.