Following a stellar first round performance in the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia 2016 National Qualifying Tournament, local amateur Aretha Pan is well in the lead as she shot a 2-under par 69 at TPC Kuala Lumpur, leaving her with a four shot lead over Kim Seonryeong, who carded a 2-over par 73.
The South Korean finished the first round in second, while Nur Durriyah, who was a qualifier last year, finished in third. Fellow Malaysians Ashley Lau and Winnie Ng are currently tied in fifth.
Similar to the format introduced during last year’s Qualifying Tournament, the first placed player, along with the top two ranked Malaysian players will receive automatic entries into the 27-30 October showpiece; in the event that the tournament is won by a Malaysian player, then three Malaysians will qualify.
Speaking about her first round performance, Kim said: “Today was a pretty good day for me. I didn’t start out as well as I would have liked, but managed to shake it off and finish stronger, so I was more confident towards the end of the round. It’s only the first round though, and there’s everything still to play for, so I’m definitely going to get in there, stay focused, and give it my all tomorrow.”
Pan’s impressive first round means that there is a possibility of a clean sweep of all three qualifying places for the Malaysians. The 22-year-old said: “The round was quite good and I’m pretty satisfied with my performance so far. The weather was very hot today so it was a real challenge staying focused out there. I started off pretty strongly but fumbled a few of the holes towards the end. I won’t be changing much for tomorrow, but will definitely try to keep my focus better, and hopefully I can qualify.”
Durriyah, who was a qualifier at last year’s tournament, said: “It was a decent round for me, and I’m just happy to have finished the first round in a position where I can still qualify. I’m feeling pretty good now after that round on the course and I’m looking forward to performing even better tomorrow.”
The tournament saw a high number of registrations with 13 players from Malaysia, and the remainder of the 25 player field made up of competitors from South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan. Further back in the standings so far are Qistina Balqis (74), Singapore’s Amanda Tan (75), and Natasha Andrea Oon (76).