Tour rookie Higa fires sparkling 62 at BTI Open

Tue 24 Apr 2018

Tour rookie Higa fires sparkling 62 at BTI Open

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Dhaka, April 24: Japan’s Kazuki Higa rose from his sick bed to shoot a sensational 10-under-par 62 in the opening round of the inaugural BTI Open on Tuesday. 

Higa recovered from a headache to shoot 10 birdies and take a commanding five-shot lead over Argentinian journeyman Miguel Carballo and Sweden’s Malcolm Kokocinski at the US$60,000 Asian Development Tour (ADT) event. 

M Dharma of India, Mithun Perera of Sri Lanka, American Andrew Park, Shakhawat Sohel and Zamal Hossain Mollah returned on matching 68s to share fourth place at the Kurmitola Golf Club.

Bangladeshi hero Siddikur Rahman posted a 70 to lie in tied 15th place, eight shots back of the leader.

Higa is playing in only his second tournament since turning professional in November last year but he showed no signs of nerves after dropping a 25-foot birdie putt on the second hole.

The 23-year-old went six-under through 13 holes and ended the day on a high note by sinking four straight birdies from the 14th hole.    

“I wasn’t feeling too well yesterday but I rested and I felt great this morning. When I played a practise round, I saw that the course was very narrow so my plan was to find fairways and try to make birdies which I did very well today,” said Higa.

The Japanese is on track to make up for his disappointment of missing out on a 2018 Asian Tour card at Qualifying School in January where he missed the grade by a single shot.

“This is only my second professional event and my first on the ADT but I’m enjoying my time because on the ADT, I get to visit different countries and play on different golf courses. I’m really looking forward to the challenge,” said Higa.

Former PGA Tour player Carballo was delighted with his opening round 67 in what is also his first visit to Bangladesh.

“I felt comfortable on the course and everytime you play good, you feel more relaxed. The course is very good. It is short but narrow so if you hit it straight, you will have more birdie chances,” said the 39-year-old Carballo.

ADT regular Kokocinski, who is ranked second on the Order of Merit, continued his fine form as he searches for a first ADT victory. He will draw confidence from his second place finish at the Dhaka Open earlier this year which was also played at the Kurmitola course.

“I’ve played at this course a couple of times so I’m quite familiar with the golf course. It was quite a boring round but very steady. I used to be an aggressive player but now I’m more relaxed and enjoying my golf more. I guess that’s helped me with good results this year,” said the Swede.

The BTI Open is the second ADT event to be staged in Bangladesh this year. The tournament will be afforded Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points with the winner receiving six OWGR points while the top-six players and ties earn points on a sliding scale.

For more information on the ADT, please visit www.asiandevelopmenttour.com.

Leading first round scores:

62 - Kazuki HIGA (JPN)

67 - Miguel CARBALLO (ARG) , Malcolm KOKOCINSKI (SWE)

68 - M DHARMA (IND) , Mithun PERERA (SRI) , Zamal Hossain MOLLAH (BAN) , Shakhawat SOHEL (BAN) , Andrew PARK (USA)

69 - Dulal HOSSAIN (BAN) , Md. Sajib ALI (BAN) , Jesse YAP (SGP) , Marc ONG (SGP) , CHOO Tze Huang (SGP) , Josh SALAH (USA)

70 - Lakshay MUDGIL (IND) , Sam GILLIS (USA) , Justin DE LOS SANTOS (USA) , Kieran PRATT (AUS) , Siddikur RAHMAN (BAN) , Shamim KHAN (IND) , Vikrant CHOPRA (IND) , Md. Sayum (BAN) , C. Muniyappa (IND) , K.PRABAGARAN (SRI) , Shivendra Singh SISODIA (IND)

71 - Feroz ALI (IND) , Arjun PRASAD (IND) , Md. Milon AHMED (BAN) , Shankar DAS (IND) , Liton Hawlader (BAN) , Shinichi MIZUNO (JPN) , Veer AHLAWAT (IND) , Anura ROHANA (SRI) , Viraj MADAPPA (IND) , Md. Ismail (BAN) , Jakiruzzaman JAKIR (BAN) , Johnson POH (SGP) , Md Nazim (BAN) , Akbar HOSSAIN (BAN) , Tapy GHAI (IND)

72 - Badal HOSSAIN (BAN) , Md. Rezaul KARIM (BAN) , MD Muaj (BAN) , John CATLIN (USA) , Divyanshu BAJAJ (IND) , Sujjan SINGH (IND) , Trishul CHINNAPPA (IND) , Md Nur Jamal (BAN) , Angad CHEEMA (IND) , Om Prakash CHOUHAN (IND) , Leunkwang KIM (MAS) , Samarth DWIVEDI (IND) , Manu GANDAS (IND) , Cody O'TOOLE (USA) , Syed Saqib AHMED (IND) , Mohammad RIPON (BAN) , Janne KASKE (FIN) , Abhishek JHA (IND) , Naoki SEKITO (JPN) , Oscar ZETTERWALL (SWE) , Masaru TANI (JPN) , Md. Hossain MIAH (BAN) , Md Shahid (BAN) , Digvijay SINGH (IND)

About Asian Development Tour

The Asian Development Tour was launched in 2010 with the aim of creating a career pathway for professional golfers in Asia. Sanctioned by the Asian Tour, the Asian Development Tour will ultimately create a new playing platform for emerging stars from across Asia and around the world. Through the Asian Tour Qualifying School, players will qualify for the Asian Development Tour and enjoy the opportunity to hone their games and talent through a secondary circuit in Asia. Designed in the same structure as the Web.com Tour in America and European Challenge Tour, the Asian Development Tour is a stepping stone to the Asian Tour and the exciting world of international golf. The Asian Development Tour has been structured to ensure the best opportunities for its members. The leading five players on the Asian Development Tour will earn coveted Asian Tour cards for the following season, ensuring a proper career pathway for aspiring professionals. All ADT events receive Official World Golf Ranking points.

Ends.