Sports

Outsider chang in three-way lead

Chang Ren Chiat gatecrashed the party to celebrate the first-day's joint-lead with two familiar twenty-somethings in The Cocoa Trees/SPGA President's Cup at Warren Golf and Country Club yesterday.

Chang, 44, a teaching pro at Orchid Country Club with very little big-game experience, shared the opening-day honours with Asian Tour players Koh Dengshan and Choo Tze Huang, all three shooting two-under 69s.

While Koh and Choo have had many amateur honours playing for the national team, Chang, a pro for nine years comes with only teaching credentials.

Chang, No. 10 on the local Order of Merit, played 14 straight holes to regulation, then birdied the par-five 15th and par-four 17th to finish a bogeyless round.

OVERJOYED

Overjoyed with his game, Chang said: "I hit 12 greens to regulation and made 27 putts, that was the key to my good game."

A regular at Warren, Chang said the greens have improved tremendously compared to two weeks ago when he was practising.

Koh, a pro at Raffles Country Club, shot four birdies but suffered two bogeys.

He made a slight tweak to his drives recently and that seems to be paying off.

"I was hitting too steep, but now I'm hitting my tee-shots on the upswing and this has helped me find direction and a bit more distance."

Choo, who suffered a left hip injury recently, feels he is finding his rhythm again.

He bagged five birdies but rued three bogeys for his 69.

A shot behind the trio is Singapore's No. 1 Mardan Mamat, who should be breathing down the necks of the leaders in the next two days.

A shot further adrift in fifth in the 49-player field is Gary Kwek, the small-sized pro with a big heart.

Donovan Lee, who shot 73, leads the amateur section by three shots from India's Samarth Dwivedi, who is based in Thailand.

LEADERBOARD

69: Chang Ren Chiat, Koh Dengshan, Choo Tze Huang. 70: Mardan Mamat. 71: Gary Kwek. 72: Goh Kun Yang, Mitchell Slorach, S. Vikkash Babu, Vincent Khua. 73: Quincy Quek, Denis Lim. 74: Unho Park, Eugene Sim, Reagan Png, T. Raju. 75: Poh Eng Wah, Lam Chih Bing, Dean Tan, Lim Kian Wee, Scott Barr, Lam Zhiqun, M. Murugiah. 76: Zaw Moe, Marc Kawasoe, Nigel Tan, Lion Goh.

B Pro: 73: Ian Sim. 79: Fred Yit, Ivek Kwan.

Seniors: 74: Alan Chang, Dino Kwek. 75: Yong Yew Chai. 76: Bill Fung, Khalid Yusoff, David Ng, Stuart Holmes. 77: Poh Eng Soon. 78: Ling Leong Hu, M. Balraj.

Amateurs: 73: Donovan Lee. 76: Samarth Dwivedi. 79: Desmond Choo, Bryan Bolte, Tim Pinneger, Han Tianshi.