Friday June 9, 2006
Malaysian Steel grabs first round lead
SAMUI (Thailand): Malaysia's Iain Steel birdied his final four holes to snatch the first round lead in the Bangkok Airways Open with a five-under 66 yesterday.
It was a wonderful start for Steel, who reeled in eight birdies and missed a five-foot eagle putt on his last hole at the challenging par-71 Santiburi Samui Country Club.
Home hero Prayad Marksaeng carried the local charge with a 67, with title-holder Lu Wen-teh of Taiwan and reigning Asian Tour number one Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand lying a further stroke back.
Canadian Rick Gibson carded a 69 while China's upcoming star Li Chao, Singapore's Mardan Mamat and American Andrew Pitts, the inaugural winner of the Bangkok Airways Open in 2004, also enjoyed solid starts in the US$300,000 event with matching 70s.
On a tough scoring day, only eight players broke par. Two-time Asian number one Thongchai Jaidee slumped to a 74 in what is the 16th leg of this season's Asian Tour.
Steel, who is of Scottish-Malaysian parentage, is playing in his maiden season in Asia and nearly didn't make it to Samui as he came down with a stomach bug last week.
When I got here, I wasn't sure if I was going to be okay as it's a tough course to play on. But today, I felt a bit better and I just tried to stay out of trouble. AFP