Wang Congjie and Tseng Tzu-Hao sizzled in the rain-hit start of the Daan TPGA Open, shooting identical six-under 66s as the Taiwanese lived up to the hype and dominated the early going of the $100,000 championship at the Ching Chuan Kang Golf Club in Taichung, Taiwan yesterday.
Congjie, No. 7 in the current PGA of Taiwan (TPGA) Order of Merit ranking, gunned down three birdies on each nine of the soggy par-72 layout to match Tseng’s equally-impressive 33-33 card fashioned out following a four-hour delay to the start of the first Philippine Golf Tour Asia event abroad.
Early morning downpour submerged the fairways and greens of the course affiliated to Taiwan’s Air Force, forcing the organizers to delay the start of the event, leaving half of the 144-player starting field wondering if they could even finish nine holes with forecast of more rains late in the day.
The 22-year-old Tseng, whose 21st place finish here last year was his best in a young four-year pro career, birdied three of the first six holes then bucked a three-putt miscue on No. 11 with four birdies in the last seven holes to emerge the surprise provisional leader.
“My short game and putting just clicked,” said Tseng, who spiked his strong start with six scrambling pars at the end of the long day.
But Wang matched that 66 minutes later in superb fashion, birdying Nos. 10, 13 and 16 then adding three more on Nos. 2, 3 and 7 as they grabbed a provisional one-stroke lead over Thai Tawit Polthai and two up over another Thai Wisut Artjanawat, American Tarik Can and Song Mengyu, also of Taiwan.
“The fairways and greens were flooded so we had to delay the start of the tournament. But we’re doing everything we could and we’re confident we’ll be able to complete this 72-hole event as scheduled,” said Bryan Chen of PGA of Taiwan. “We’ll start at 6:30 a.m. tomorrow (today) for those with unfinished first round.”
Jay Bayron, the lone Filipino entry in the full-packed field who drew a 12:20 p.m. start, didn’t hit his first drive until 4:20 p.m.
“It’s a difficult course and the rain made it tougher. I’ll just do my best to come up with a good start,” said the Davaoeño shotmaker, adding that he didn’t feel any pressure being the lone Pinoy bet in the event put up by ICTSI and co-sanctioned by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments,Inc.
But Tseng, who honed his skills and talent in Japan, proved tougher in damp conditions, putting in a pair of 33s he spiked with a 24-putt effort on the unreceptive, unpredictable greens.
Polthai, a regular PGTA campaigner, put on a blistering frontside windup of four birdies in row to churn out a 33-34 round and keep the Taiwanese within sight with the veteran Artjanawat coming through with three birdies in the last eight holes to lay just two strokes off the joint leaders in the event backed by PLDT Enterprise, Meralco, BDO and PGT Asia official apparel Pin High.
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