India’s Dawar lying 10th at Asian Golf Tour Q-School


Kota Kinabalu (Malaysia) : Naman Dawar got off to a great start with a four-under 68 that placed him tied 10th at the end of the first round of the Asian Tour Qualifying School finals here Wednesday.

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Dawar, a Delhi professional, was five shots behind the leader Ben Leong, Malaysia’s hot new star. The 21-year-old Leong shot a nine-under 63 at the Sutera Harbour Golf and Country Club.

The rest of the 13 Indians were way behind as 184 players teed for the 40 berths available for the main Asian Tour.

The next best Indian behind Dawar was Chiragh Kumar, a member of India’s Asian Games team in December 2006. He shot a 70 and tied 43rd, while Mandeo Pathania (71) and Gurki Shergill (73) were among the other Indian players fighting to qualify.

The other Indians in the field are Anirban Lahiri and Ranjit Singh who shot 74 each and are 125th; Karanjit Singh, Harmeet Kahlon and Arjun Singh Chaudhri with 75 are tied for 141st, Anirudh Goyal (76) was 157th, Sujjan Singh (77) was 164th, A.S. Lehal (78) was 174th while Neil Mundra (81) and Kanwar Sekhon (82) were 182nd and 184th.

Malaysia’s hotshot Ben Leong lived up to his billing as one of the favourites to top Qualifying School Finals when he fired an impressive nine-under par 63 to earn sole possession of the opening round lead Wednesday.

Leong sank seven birdies and an eagle to open up a one-stroke lead over closest rival, Rick Kulacz of Australia, who is looking for his maiden appearance on the Tour next season.

Japan’s Mitsuhiro Tateyama, meanwhile carded a 65 at the Sabah Golf and Country Club to take third place while England’s Yasin Ali and Craig Smith of Wales shot matching 66s to claim joint fourth place.

Japan’s Tateyama, whose last attempt to play on the Tour was way back in 1997, also edged himself closer to his target of earning his tour card for next season with a 65.

“I am good friends with Jeev (Milkha Singh) and he told me that the Asian Tour is really good. Compared to how it was 10 years ago, the Tour is much bigger, the quality of the game is tremendous and I really want to be part of it,” said Tateyama.

Six-time Japan Golf Tour winner, Hur Suk-ho of Korea carded a 71 in tied 69th spot while former Ryder Cup player and 1999 British Open runner-up Jean Van de Velde posted an even-par 72 in joint 89th place.