Korean-American Lee hits to the front at PGM Miri Championship

Wed 05 Sep 2018

Korean-American Lee hits to the front at PGM Miri Championship

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Miri, Sarawak, September 5: Seasoned golfer Han Lee of the United States battled to an opening four-under-par 68 to seize the lead at the PGM Miri Championship on Wednesday. 

The 41-year-old Lee, a former Asian Tour regular and a winner on the Japan Golf Tour, stood firm in the windy conditions to register five birdies against one bogey at the challenging Eastwood Valley Golf and Country Club which measures at 7,424 yards.

The Korean-American leads by one-shot from Asian Development Tour (ADT) Order of Merit leader Miguel Carballo of Argentina and Indonesia’s Elki Kow at the RM225,000 (approximately US$58,000) ADT tournament.

Nitithorn Thippong of Thailand, ranked second on the ADT Order of Merit, and Malaysians Amir Nazrin and Sukree Othman were a further shot back in tied fourth place on matching 70s.

Starting on the 10th tee, Lee took full advantage of a hot start when he posted three straight birdies before holing a huge 26-feet birdie putt on the difficult par-four 14th hole. He dropped his only shot on 18 but swiftly recovered with another birdie on hole one.

“I hit the ball really well and that’s good especially on this challenging course. Yes, I started off nicely and sometimes I do something crazy like that,” he laughed.

“I’m really happy with the birdie on 14. It is good if you can par that hole the entire week so to make birdie is fantastic,” said Lee, who won his career’s biggest title in Japan in 2012.

It was evidently a tough day at work as Lee was among 11 players to break par after battling against swirling winds following a rain suspension in the morning which lasted an hour and 35 minutes.

“You can’t win the tournament on the first round but I wanted to post something good to get me going for the week. I really enjoy playing on the ADT because it is four rounds and I look forward to another solid three days,” said Lee, who finished tied second at the Taifong Open in Chinese Taipei last month.  

Amir showed no signs of a hangover following his play-off defeat in Indonesia two weeks ago as he fired a 70 to trail the leader by two shots. He registered four birdies and dropped two shots after finding the thick rough around the greens on holes four and 17.

“The course is so long and the wind started to pick up after the suspension. I did well to keep the ball in play but I need to reduce my silly bogeys. You can’t miss the greens because the rough is so thick,” said Amir.

The winner of the PGM Miri Championship will receive six OWGR points while the top six players and ties will also earn points based on a sliding scale.

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

Leading first round scores:

68 - Han LEE (USA)

69 - Elki KOW (INA) , Miguel CARBALLO (ARG)

70 - Amir NAZRIN (MAS) , Nitithorn THIPPONG (THA) , Sukree OTHMAN (MAS)

71 - George GANDRANATA (INA) , Fajar Win NURYANTO (INA) , Tarik CAN (USA) , Ben LEONG (MAS) , Poom PATTAROPONG (THA)

72 - Varanyu RATTANAPHIBOONKIJ (THA) , Panuwat MUENLEK (THA) , Shakhawat SOHEL (BAN) , Sam LEE (FIJ) , Jeremy WENDELKEN (USA) , Nicholas FUNG (MAS) , Kazuki HIGA (JPN) , Chanat SAKULPOLPHAISAN (THA) , Mathiam KEYSER (RSA) , Kwanchai TANNIN (THA) , Parama CHANSUE (THA)

73 - Hyukchul SHIN (KOR) , Justin DE LOS SANTOS (USA) , Sam GILLIS (USA) , Josh SALAH (USA) , Sorachut HANSAPIBAN (THA) , Shinichi MIZUNO (JPN) , Ekthumrong LUANGANURUK (THA) , HUI Yong Sherng (MAS)

74 - Joshua HAN (USA) , Janne KASKE (FIN) , Leunkwang KIM (MAS) , Donlaphatchai NIYOMCHON (THA) , Samarth DWIVEDI (IND) , Sajawat SRIPRASIT (THA)

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 seven 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.