South Korean Hwang Inn-choon and Australian Scott Hend took an early lead in the first round of the CIMB Niaga Indonesian Masters 2013 on Thursday.
Each shot six-under-par 66 at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club to share top place 2 stroke over third-place Austrian Bernd Wiesberger.
Tournament favorite Ernie Els of South Africa carded 68, equal to Adilson Da Silva (Brazil) and Asian tour rookie David Lutterus (Australia) Jason Knutzon (US), Scott Barr (Australia), Arnond Vongvanij (Thailand), Unho Park (Australia).
Inn-choon, who teed off at hole 10, got off to a good start with two birdies before falling to a bogey at the fourth and double bogey at 17.
He recovered by birdying four of the remaining five holes for the share of the lead. “I’m very happy because my putting was so good and I hit a lot of drives on the fairways. I like to play on this golf course because it has good fairways and fast greens,” said Inn-choon, who won the Asian Tour in 2008.
Hend took off with three straight birdies from 12 but his charge came to a halt when he double bogeyed at five, which was swiftly erased with an eagle two on the next hole
“I’m in a good position. The scores are going to be low this week so I’ve got to keep grinding those numbers and add that to a good score,” said Hend.
“The ball is not rolling very far because of how wet it after the rain last night. We [big hitters] have an advantage over the other guys, who may have a shorter iron hitting into the greens but you still have to get those putts into the hole,” said the Australian, who won his first Asian Tour title in Indonesia in 2008.
A return to Asia brought out the best out of 4-time Major champion Els, who finished tied 13th at the Masters Tournament and placed 15th on the PGA Tour on Sunday.
“I’m starting to feel more comfortable with my game. When I played in Chiang Mai, I wasn’t too comfortable with my game. I played okay at the Masters Tournament and had a nice week at New Orleans. I feel things are starting to come around so I must thank the Asian Tour for getting my game back in shape. I like playing out here,” said Els.
“I made a silly mistake on the third hole, which was a short par four. I played nicely and played with a nice group of guys, who played good as well,” he added.
Local players, as expected, struggled, with the best performance among them shown by Junaidi Ibrahim. He made carded an even-par round to end the opening round in 52nd position shared by another 20 players.
First round scores
66 — Hwang Inn-choon (Kor), Scott Hend (Aus)
67 — Bernd Wiesberger (Aut)
68 — Adilson Da Silva (Bra), Ernie Els (Rsa), David Lutterus (Aus), Jason Knutzon (US), Scott Barr (Aus), Arnond Vongvanij (Tha), Unho Park (Aus)
69 — Jake Higginbottom (Aus), Carlos Pigem (Esp), Chawalit Plaphol (Tha), Thaworn Wirachant (Tha), Simon Dyson (Eng), Wade Ormsby (Aus), Javi Colomo (Esp), Gunn Charoenkul (Tha), Thongchai Jaidee (Tha), Sattaya Supupramai (Tha)
70 — Shiv Kapur (Ind), Iain Steel (Mas), Hung Chien-yao (Tpe), Sujjan Singh (Ind), Chris Rodgers (Eng), Daisuke Kataoka (Jpn), Ryan McCarthy (Aus), Kieran Pratt (Aus), Darren Clarke (Nir), Angelo Que (Phi), Zaw Moe (Myn), Antonio Lascuna (Phi), Chinnarat Phadungsil (Tha), Peter Richardson (Eng)