Fri, Nov 21, 2003 - Page 24 News List

Jeev Singh leads after first round of open

By Jules Quartly  /  STAFF REPORTER

England's Justin Rose tees off on the 8th hole during the first day of the US$300,000 Acer Taiwan Open, yesterday, in Taoyuan.

PHOTO: AP

Ideal conditions on the first day of the Acer Taiwan Open at the Sunrise Golf and Country Club in Yangmei, Taoyuan County, inspired India's Jeev Singh to an early lead yesterday with a 7-under par 65.

Forecasts of a cold snap, rolling fog and possibly rain proved wide of the mark as the sun shone and mild conditions helped 10 players shoot 3-under or less.

Thailand's Thammanoon Spirot was one shot behind the pace with a 66 and Taiwan's Kao Bo-song (高柏松) made the biggest impression among local golfers with a steady 67, at 5-under par. Australians Marcus Both and Pat Giles were on 68, with five other players scoring 69.

"The green conditions were great -- even better than last year," Singh said. "And I liked today's weather, though the tee-off time [9:30am] was a bit too early."

"This year I've been doing pretty good, but I have got a bit of a habit of starting off well and then falling off in the final two days."

The 31-year-old from Chandigarh -- who has been playing in Canada, but without much success -- said his approach play had been great all day and his putting had not let him down.

Defending champion Danny Chia was par for the course after day one, shooting an error-strewn 70 that positioned him in the middle of the pack.

He said he hoped to build on his first round and put in another strong finish similar to last year when he managed to snatch the title down the final back-nine from a crushed Hsieh Yu-shu (謝玉樹), who had led at the start of the day by six shots.

"It was a bad day today, but I have to take it," Chia said. "You never know what's going to happen. Last year I came back and it's happened to me quite a few times. That makes me even more certain that anything can happen."

The Malaysian said he had gained confidence after his Taiwan Open win last year, but the change in outlook had not helped him to more victories this year.

"Yes, I had confidence, but it didn't go right," Chia said. "Basically, I was trying way too hard and it didn't go well for me. So, I relaxed a bit halfway through the season and it seemed to help.

"There's no extra pressure being defending champion. I always like coming here [to Taiwan] and of course I enjoy this golf course," he added.

Star player Justin Rose of England seemed to enjoy his round and apart from a few minor irritations, picked up a useful 2-under par 70, placing him five shots off the pace.

"I feel that I played pretty well today, but made mistakes," Rose said. "Four bogies are too much to shoot a good score, so going into tomorrow I will have to cut down on mistakes.

"I felt that my concentration today wasn't so good," he said. "Maybe I was just a little tired."

Rose, 23, said he wasn't too bothered by being five strokes behind on the first day, adding that he wasn't surprised at the low rounds as conditions had been ideal.

"It's all about the last day," Rose said. "You've got to keep it going.

"I've got positives to draw on as I have come on strong at the end in the past," he said.

Andrew Pitts, the tournament's winner in 2001, struggled, only managing to remain 2-over par after 12 holes after play was suspended at around 6pm.

Lu Wen-hsyong (呂文雄), one of Taiwan's brighter hopefuls, picked up a 69, along with compatriot Tseng Kuo-chang (曾國錩).

The US$300,000 Acer Taiwan Open is a 72-hole competition with four rounds of 18 holes each and will conclude on Sunday.

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