Fung reaches heady heights as Sabah takes toll on rivals

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 March, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 March, 1996, 12:00am

Hong Kong's Derek Fung recorded six birdies to take the lead after the opening round of the US$200,000 Sabah Masters in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, yesterday.

Fung shot a three-under-par 69 at the Sabah Golf and Country Club - the only player to break the 70 barrier at the opening event of this year's Omega Tour. It is the first time Fung has led on the Tour.

'It was hard work all the way,' said Fung. 'It's a very difficult course. I think the key was being able to make a number of birdies that offset the bogeys that you're inevitably going to chalk up on this course.

'There are a lot of tough courses in Asia and this ranks as one of them.' India's Jyoti Randhawa and Taiwan's Lin Chih-chen share second place a stroke behind Fung while a further shot back are American Mike Cunning, Marciano Pucay of the Philippines, and Thailand's Arjin Sophon and Kumphol Sinsuebphol.

Only 41 professionals from the 145-strong field finished under 75 and 26 carded rounds in the 80s.

Thoughts of finishing at the top of the leaderboard were far from Fung's mind after he three-putted the first for a bogey. But he grabbed the shot back on the 565-yard par-five second and picked up more birdies on the fourth, 11th, 14th, 16th and 17th holes.

'The 16th was definitely my hole of the day,' said the big-hitting Fung who, after driving into the trees on the left, knocked his second shot to within an inch of the hole.

Fung's best finish on the Omega Tour last year was fifth place in the Royal Perak Classic.

'I've been playing well recently,' he said. 'I've also been helped by reading a book on sports psychology that's teaching me to think more clearly when I'm playing. It's really helped my putting.'