Nusajaya, Johor, Malaysia, December 13: Asian Tour rookie David Lipsky of the United States set the scorching pace at the US$2 million Iskandar Johor Open by holding the opening round lead at eight-under through 16 holes before play was abandoned due to inclement weather on Thursday.
Heavy thunderstorms and lightning threats forced play to be suspended at 1.34pm and with heavy rains showing no sign of letting up throughout the afternoon, 84 players will have to return at 7.15am on Friday to resume their round.
Australia’s Unho Park posted a flawless 65 to take second place while Korean-American Kevin Na signed for a 66 to take third place at the Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club.
South Africa’s Peter Karmis kept his hopes of securing his Tour card for next season alive when he returned with a 67 to take a share of fourth place with India’s S.S.P. Chowrasia, Philippines’ Angelo Que and Australia’s Darren Beck who is at five-under through 17 holes at the Asian Tour season-ending event.
Lipsky, who won his maiden Asian Tour title in Cambodia earlier this year, stood on the brink of extending his advantage to two when his tee shot on the par-three eight landed within two-feet of the pin.
The 24-year-old did not have the opportunity to tap in his birdie putt as the air horns began to blow, signalling the start of a play suspension which eventually led to it being abandoned.
“I had a two-footer for birdie and I was looking to make that and finish the round strong. I just made like three pars in a row before the delay so it didn’t stop any momentum. I would have preferred to sleep in but you can’t do anything about these weather conditions,” said Lipsky.
Despite putting himself into a good position on the leaderboard after the opening round, Park insisted he is solely focused on securing his Tour card for next season.
“I’m still trying to keep my card, that’s the focus. If I’m up there on the last day then it will be fantastic but right now, it will be a bonus if I can be inside the top-60,” said Park, who is currently lying in 66th place on the rankings.
Having finished tied-36th in Thailand last week, Na is now hoping to shake off the effects of his long-distance travel from the United States and end his year on a winning note.
A graduate of the Asian Tour, the 29-year-old enjoyed his career breakthrough in Malaysia in 2002 before going on to achieve more success on the US PGA Tour where he won once last year.
“I was very pleased with how I played. I played very solid with seven birdies and only one bogey. I putted great and hit the ball good,” said Na.
“I got a good practice in Thailand. It was a long commute for me and got a little sick. I’ve got over that and I’m feeling better and better. Hopefully I can get it low and see where I am,” added Na.
Asian Tour Order of Merit contenders Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand and Australia’s Marcus Fraser are at one-under after 17 holes.
The Iskandar Johor Open is presented by Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Sdn Bhd, which is a government-linked company specifically incorporated to take on the role of master developer of prime waterfront properties in Johor Bahru.
Completed scores after Round 1:
65 – Unho PARK (AUS).
66 – Kevin NA (USA).
67 – Peter KARMIS (RSA), Angelo QUE (PHI), S.S.P. CHOWRASIA (IND).
68 – Daniel CHOPRA (SWE).
70 – Michael TRAN (VNM), Sukree OTHMAN (MAS), ZHANG Lian-wei (CHN), Sam CYR (USA), Arnond VONGVANIJ (THA), Ron HARVEY JR. (CAN).
71 – Wade ORMSBY (AUS), Peter GUSTAFSSON (SWE), Michael CAMPBELL (NZL).
David LIPSKY (USA) -8 through 16 holes
Marcus FRASER (AUS) -1 through 17 holes
Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) -1 through 17 holes
Jbe KRUGER (RSA) Even-par through 17 holes