Kitayama stars at PGM Darulaman Championship
Kedah, Malaysia, January 24: American Kurt Kitayama marked his first appearance on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) with a stunning opening round of nine-under-par 63 to take the clubhouse lead at the weather-hit PGM Darulaman Championship on Wednesday.
The 25-year-old American made a charge with nine birdies in round one, five of them made consecutively from holes six to 10, in hopes of securing his maiden ADT win at the RM225,000 (approximately US$55,000) event held at Darulaman Golf and Country Club.
“I hit it well off the tee today and gave myself a lot of opportunities with my wedges. I was able to reach some par fives in two, so I just took advantage of that. I made a good save on hole 16 and birdied the 18th to make a good round even greater. I was on the fairway of hole 14 when they sounded the horn and made par when I got back to the hole. Then, I birdied the 15th and had a good save on hole 16. The delay worked in my favour this time,” said Kitayama.
Kitayama has had an eventful start to his 2018 season. He travelled to three foreign countries he’s never been to, earned his Asian Tour card, and qualified for his first Asian Tour event all in January.
“I was feeling tired after Singapore from the heat and weather disruptions. I got some rest last night and was focused on today’s round. I only played nine holes in the practice round yesterday since I’ve played so many rounds already prior to today.”
“It’s so much more humid here compared to the U.S and you’re losing so much fluids throughout the day. I haven’t really adjusted to the conditions,” added Kitayama.
Malaysia’s Sukree Othman and Thailand’s Tawan Phongphun carded matching 67s to take tied-second.
“I won my first event of the year last week in Perlis and that pumped me up for this week. I have played here many times and I know this course inside out. I am very confident in my swing and have been practicing hard and working on my fitness,” added Othman who only missed one green today.
American John Catlin, coming off hot from a great 2017 season where he earned his Asian Tour card, carded a 68 to share tied-fourth with Thailand’s Nitithorn Thippong and Itthipat Buranatanyarat.
“I have been working hard with my coach who flew down from Sacramento and I’m ready to start 2018 right as well as to win some tournaments,” said 27-year-old Catlin.
Play was first suspended at 4.00pm local time due to heavy rain before resuming at 5.30pm local time. It was later abandoned for the day at 7.20 pm due to fading light.
A total of 15 players will resume their first round at 7.45am local time on Thursday with the second round starting at 7.45am local time as scheduled.
The PGM Darulaman Championship, by featuring on the ADT schedule, will receive official World Golf Ranking status. The winner will receive a minimum of six Official World Golf Ranking points and the top six players and ties will earn points on a sliding scale.
Leading first round scores:
63 – Kurt KITAYAMA (USA)
67 – Sukree OTHMAN (MAS), Tawan PHONGPHUN (THA)
68 – John Catlin (USA), Nitithorn THIPPONG (THA), Itthipat BURANATANYARAT (THA)
69 – Poom PATTAROPONG (THA), Greg MOSS (USA), Airil Rizman ZAHARI (MAS)
70 – Johnson POH (SGP), Kwanchai TANNIN (THA), Seungjae MAENG (USA), Muhammad Syakir ADLI AZMI (MAS), Shinichi MIZUNO (JPN), Oscar ZETTERWALL (SWE)