KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 11 -- Frenchman Erwan Vieilledent opened up a two-shot lead at the PGM Sabah Asian Development Tour (ADT) Championship after he shot a commendable six-under-par 66 today.
Vieilledent was trailed closely by a chasing pack that includes recent ADT winner Joohyung Kim of South Korea, Fiji’s Sam Lee, Swedish Oscar Zetterwall and Malaysian U-Minn Woon, who all shot 68.
Vieilledent's round was highlighted by an eagle on the par-five sixth hole, which he described as having “helped greatly” under sweltering conditions at the Sabah Golf and Country Club in Kota Kinabalu.
“I had some good shots on the fairways. That eagle and a couple of birdies (six) helped greatly too. It was challenging out there, especially with the heat.
"The greens are also firm which makes it a bit more difficult, but overall I’m pleased with my round today,” Vieilledent as quoted as saying in the ADT website www.asiantour.com/adt
Vieilledent would be hoping to rekindle some of the form which earned him a career best finish in East Malaysia four years ago.
The world number 2,066 had finished second at the Sarawak Championship in 2015 which propelled him to a top-900 rank.
But Vieilledent has a long journey ahead of him, especially with Kim chasing a back-to-back title after lifting the Ciputra Golfpreneur Tournament last month.
The South Korean had a bogey-free round that included two birdies on the second and 15th holes, as well as a closing eagle on 18th.
Another good performance in Sabah would edge him closer to his hopes of topping the Order of Merit at the end of the season.
“The main goal is to finish high on the Merit list, but first I must continue to produce the goods. Today was a good day as I was hitting well from the fairways to the greens.
“My stroke game was also good, and it needs to be on a course like this where the greens are firm. I did well with my irons and am hoping for the same tomorrow. Of course, the lower the score the better," said Kim.
Kim is currently second behind Japan’s Naoki Sekita on the Order of Merit, thanks to a current haul of US$41,228.
Further down the leaderboard, defending champion Ben Leong sits tied-seventh after he managed a 71.
The 2017 ADT Order of Merit winner Pannakorn Uthaipas and Sekito were four shots off the pace after returning with matching 72s.
The PGM Sabah ADT Championship offers a total prize purse of RM225,000.
Leading round one scores: (Note: Malaysian unless stated)
66 - Erwan Vieilledent (FRA)
68 - Sam Lee (FIJ) , Joohyung Kim (KOR), Oscar Zetterwall (SWE) , U-Minn Woon
70 - Witchayanon Chothirunrungrueng (THA)
71 - Joshua Shou (SGP) , Atiruj Winaicharoenchai (THA) , Daeng Rahman , Mohammad Wafiyuddin , Sydney Chung (USA), Peradol Panyathanasedh (THA) , Ben Leong
72 - Tarik Can (USA) , Pannakorn Uthaipas (THA) , Chonlatit Chuenboonngam (THA) , Shae Wools-Cobb (AUS) , Naoki Sekito (JPN)
73 - Wee Jin Low (SGP), M. Sasidaran , Sorachut Hansapiban (THA) , Maveen Kumar , Worrasorn Suwanpanang (THA) , Rizal Amin , Brian Jung (CAN) , Paul San , Leunkwang Kim , Shahriffuddin Ariffin , Seung Park (KOR)
74 - Peter Gunawan (INA), Joshua Andrew Wirawan (INA) , S. Sivachandhran , Pisitchai Thippong (THA) , Kasidit Lepkurte (THA) , T. Kiishaan , Brandon Lau , Nattawat Suvajanakorn (THA)