Japan’s seasoned pro Kenichi Kuboya may have considerably slowed down his progression on the Asian Tour, but he still has plenty of fire in his belly to produce a blazing round of golf. The 38-year-old set a scorching pace with a seven-under-par 65 yesterday to top the leader board at the end of the first round of the 2010 Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open at the Phokeethra Country Club in Siem Reap.
Kuboya took a giant step towards ending his near eight-year title drought, by picking up a birdie on the par 4 fourth hole. He quickly reeled off two more on the eighth and the ninth to turn in with his confidence well elevated.
Birdies on the 10th, 12th, 16th and 17th saw him polish the round off on a high note.
“I like this course,” he said. “I really putted well and that gave me confidence.”
While the Japanese raider’s exotic round caused a buzz across the course, the prodigious Atiwit Janewattanond unleashed a flaming six-under-par 66 to breathe down Kuboya’s neck.
The 15-year-old Thai sensation, who became the youngest player to make the cut at the Tour season opener in February this year, turned a pro barely two weeks ago at the King’s Cup.
He fired seven birdies to erase a bogey blemish on the par 4 tenth.
“I feel that I am not hitting the ball long enough,” conceded the teenage tournament invitee as he made it clear he would opt for caution over aggression in the next three rounds to build on his momentum, and would be unlikely to attack the pins the way he did yesterday.
A tidy finish by Siddikur, the only pro golfer from Bangladesh on the Tour, saw him slide into third place with a score of 67.
“I couldn’t have bargained for a better start,” he said. The 26-year-old chipped his way out of trouble twice from bunkers on the par 5 second and fourth to set up birdies shots from distance, sinking them both.
Reigning champion Marcus Both of Australia joined Siddikur in third with his own 67 to remain within striking distance of the top two.
The Korean pair of Young Nam and Mo Joong-Kyung are three shots behind the leader with rounds of 68, while Thailand’s Thaworn Wirajchant leads a clutch of players at 69.
Inaugural edition winner Bryan Saltus returned with a 70, saying that he has no reason to be either pleased or to complain. “It was okay. If I cut down on mistakes I can build on this,” he said yesterday.
Cambodia’s interest centred on amateurs Seng Vanseiha and Ly Hong. While Seng Vanseiha managed a six-over-par 78, Ly Hong drifted back to 84 to face a near impossible task of making the cut.