Smooth sailing for Natthapong at Port Dickson

Port Dickson, October 14: Natthapong Niyomchon of Thailand sizzled to a bogey-free 66 to grab a one-shot lead after the opening round of the PGM-ASEAN PGA PD Championship on Wednesday.

Starting at the 10th hole, he made his move around the turn with four birdies in six holes before picking up another shot at his final hole.

That saw him draw a shot clear of Malaysia’s Kemarol Baharin, a winner in April at the PGM-ASEAN PGA UMW Impian Championship. He was also flawless with birdies at the seventh, 12th, 16th and 17th holes at Port Dickson Golf & Country Club.

Thailand’s Nirun Sae-Ueng also shot 67 in the afternoon session, three birdies in a row from the 11th hole (his second of the day after starting at the 10th) laying the foundation for his round.

A quartet of players – Chanachok Dejpiratanamongkol of Thailand, Michael Bibat of the Philippines and Shaifubari Muda and Anis Helmi Hassan of Malaysia – lie a further shot behind in joint fourth place after hitting 68s. Bibat shot a noteworthy seven birdies but his scorecard was blighted by a double bogey and two bogeys.

Malaysia’s Lim Eng Seng, who won the corresponding event last year, had an up and down day with three birdies cancelled out by three bogeys in his round of level par 71.

Khor Kheng Hwai of Malaysia, winner of the PGM-ASEAN PGA Penang Championship last month, retired from the tournament due to a fever.

Leader Natthapong is currently 15th on the ASEAN PGA Tour Order of Merit with his best finish coming at the PGM-ASEAN PGA UMW Impian Championship, won by Baharin, where he was fourth.

He was also fourth in the Taifong Open on the Asian Development Tour in August.