Unheralded Lu Tze-shyan from Taiwan was the unlikeliest of names to join a leaderboard logjam after the first round of the US$300,000 ICTSI Philippine Open yesterday.
The 31-year-old Lu, who has made just two cuts in 26 starts on the Asian Tour and whose uncle was a multiple Tour winner, battled to a three-under-par 69 late in the day to make it a six-way tie.
Up there with him was Singaporean Mardan Mamat, Japan’s Azuma Yano and Americans Matthew Rosenfeld, Ben Fox and Anthony Kang, a former Philippine Open champion, at the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club’s East course.
Filipino veteran Frankie Minoza, chasing a third Open win, newcomer Charles Hong and Mars Pucay led the local brigade with identical 70s to lie one back with talented Thai Thanyakon Khrongpha and rookies James Byrne and Wade Ormsby.
Lu, the nephew of Lu Wen-teh, was five-under with four holes to play, but dropped two late bogeys to fall back into the joint lead in Asia’s oldest national championship.
“I putted well, holed quite a few 10-foot putts and some long ones. Overall, I played okay. I saw that I was leading and I was happy, but I got a bit nervous as well,” he said.
“On the third hole [his 12th], the TV cameras started to follow me. This is the first time I’m playing well on the Asian Tour and I wasn’t used to it,” said Lu, who started his round with four straight birdies.
A career first top-10 last season has provided the inspiration for Lu to try to emulate his famous uncle, who holds five wins on the region’s elite circuit.
Wen-teh waited at the clubhouse to give the joint leader a pat on the back after the younger Lu completed his round.
“I caddied for my uncle on Tour for three years from 2007 to 2009 and I learned a lot,” Lu said. “His technique, the way he thinks on the golf course is very good. It was very good experience.”
69 — Azuma Yano (Japan), Mardan Mamat (Singapore), Matthew Rosenfeld (US), Anthony Kang (US), Ben Fox (US), Lu Tze-shyan (Taiwan).
70 — Thanyakon Khrongpha (Thailand), Charles Hong (Philippines), James Byrne (Scotland), Mars Pucay (Philippines), Frankie Minoza (Philippines), Wade Ormsby (Australia), Atthaphon Prathummanee (Thailand).