A relaxed Angelo Que made a welcome return to form to share the first-round lead with Japanese duo Tetsuji Hiratsuka and Daisuke Maruyama at the Black Mountain Masters yesterday. The Filipino brilliantly fired two eagles, four birdies and a lone bogey at the Black Mountain Golf Club for a seven-under-par 65 which was matched by his Japanese rivals in the Asian Tour’s US$600,000 season finale.
Taiwan’s Lu Wen-teh carded a five-under 67, Lin Wen-hong and Lu Wei-chih had three-under 69s and Lien Lu-sen had a 71. Eight other Taiwanese players were even-par or worse.
South Korea’s Lee Sung, who was born deaf, but recently had an implant surgically placed in his right ear to help with his hearing, shot a 66 to share third with big-hitting local star Chapchai Nirat, countryman Atthaphon Prathummanee, India’s Himmat Rai, England’s Simon Griffiths and American Anthony Kang on a day of low scoring.
Three-time Order of Merit winner Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, fresh off a victory in Cambodia on Sunday, rued a cold putter after carding a 68 to trail by three shots, while defending champion Johan Edfors of Sweden stumbled to a 74.
A bogey on his last hole failed to dampen Que’s mood.
“I’m just coming out for a good time and whatever happens, happen,” said the Filipino, a three-time Asian Tour winner.
“Normally if I shoot seven--under with a bogey on the last, I’ll be so mad and depressed. But you know what? I still shot seven-under. It’s just a bogey. I think looking at things that way helps a lot,” he said.
DIP IN FORM
Que’s form dipped after he lifted a third career title in August in Malaysia as he started putting pressure on himself to achieve more success.
He realized his mistake and vowed to maintain his happy-go-lucky style, he said.
“The next time I win, I’ll just let it go and do whatever I can and not think about anything,” Que said.
A blazing finish with four closing birdies put Hiratsuka in the hunt for his third Asian Tour victory of the season.
“I hit it very solid, but struggled with my putting on my front nine [starting on the 10th tee]. It started to click in my homeward nine and I sank four straight birdies which was a great way to end my round,” said Hiratsuka, who won the Air Bagan Myanmar Open and Queen’s Cup in Thailand this year.
His compatriot Maruyama, who finished 15th on the Japan Tour money list this year, was bogey free and got lucky on the second hole, which he eagled.
“I thought it [a three wood approach] was going to end up in the water hazard as I hit a low shot, but luckily, it found the green and I holed a putt from 15 feet,” said Maruyama, who is a two-time Asian Tour winner.
Additional reporting by staff writer