Long shots pace Solaire Open
CANLUBANG, Laguna—Unheralded Ryan Lam came into the Solaire Open not expecting a shade of what he pulled off in Thursday’s first round.
Flawless on a day when the majority in the field were just trying to survive the elements, the 25-year-old Lam fired a five-under- par 66 to share the first-round lead with an equally obscure Australian, Sam Brazel, in the $300,000 Asian Tour event.
Lam assembled nines of 33-33 over the The Country Club layout to tie Brazel and take a one-shot lead over Swede Rikard Karlberg and local teen Miguel Tabuena.
Lam churned out easily one of the best rounds of his career even as the big guns struggled in the face of strong winds, the length of the course and the sleek greens.
Zannie Boy Gialon and Jessie Balasabas gutted out 68s to lead a crack six-man group, just two strokes behind, including the seasoned Prayad Marksaeng and Chawalit Plaphol of Thailand.
Another Thai, Prom Meesawat, the runner-up to China’s Liang Wenchong in the Manila Masters at Southwoods last year, was also in striking distance with a 69, tied with African Bryce Easton in the event sponsored by Solaire Resorts and Casino and backed by DMCI Homes, BDO, PLDT and Meralco.
“I had modest expectations, considering the golf course and the quality of the field,” said Lam, who chipped in for birdie at the 18th from about 40 feet.
Brazel, an avid fisherman who would have been a professional angler if a career in golf didn’t work out, shot four early birdies to make the turn at 31.
He got it to six under after the 14th, before dropping his only shot on the 16th.
“This is my first time here (in the Philippines) and I enjoy the layout,” Brazel said.
Angelo Que and Antonio Lascuña carded 70s to be in a big group that was four shots adrift, even as Frankie Miñoza flirted with early elimination after a 73.
Also in danger of missing the halfway cut was Cassius Casas, the TCC Invitational winner in February, who shot a 74.
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