Young Tseng Tzu-Hao flashed an impeccable short game to card a six-under 66 and grab the clubhouse lead in the rain-delayed Daan TPGA Open at the Ching Chuan Kang Golf Club in Taichung, Taiwan yesterday.
Tseng birdied three of the first six holes after the start of the $100,000 event, originally set at 7 a.m., was pushed back four hours later due to heavy rains that rendered the military layout unplayable. He then bucked a three-putt miscue on No. 11 with four birdies in the last seven holes to emerge the surprise provisional leader in the first Philippine Golf Tour Asia event abroad.
“My short game and putting just clicked,” said Tseng, 22, who saved pars in six times that he went out of regulation.
Early morning downpour submerged the fairways and greens of the par-72 course, forcing the organizers to delay the start of the championship.
“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.
Song Mengyu, joint fourth in the current TPGA Order of Merit rankings, shot a 69 to trail Tseng by three while Zhang Zepeng and American Tarik Can turned in identical 70s with Xie Jixian scoring a 71 in the event backed by PLDT Enterprise, Meralco, BDO and PGT Asia official apparel Pin High.