Hong Kong star Taichi Kho flying high on home course

Hong Kong star Taichi Kho flying high on home course

Taichi Kho’s dream debut as a professional in an Asian Tour event at the Hong Kong Golf Club (HKGC), his home course, continued today when he took the second round-lead in the US$1million World City Championship presented by the Hong Kong Golf Club.

The 22 year old brilliantly fired his second-successive six-under-par 64 to lead by two from Filipino Miguel Tabuena, the first-round leader, who shot 67, and winner of last week’s The DGC Open presented by Mastercard. 

New Zealand’s Michael Hendry is in third place, four behind Kho, after returning a 64. 

Kho, a member of the HKGC since January who was unveiled this week as their ambassador, is 12 under and now has an outstanding opportunity to become the first player from Hong Kong to win on the Asian Tour – which would be especially significant as this event is the first international golf tournament in Hong Kong, China for 38 months.

Notre Dame graduate Kho played flawless bogey-free golf making two birdies on the front before four more on the second half, including one on the famous par-four 18th.

“Yeah, just a really great round of golf and I putted really well today,” said Kho, whose father is from Hong Kong and mother Japanese.

“And you know like I said yesterday, I'm just gonna go out there and try my best on every shot and that's exactly what I did. And I was able to roll a few putts in and it added up to a total of 64, so very happy with the day.”

He graduated at the Asian Tour Qualifying School in January, in 24th place, made it through to the weekend in the two Tour events he played after that, and after another fine round today showed he is clearly revelling playing at this level. 

Although appearing outwardly very calm he admitted there have been plenty of nerves over the first two days.

He said: “Yeah, I mean, I felt it a little more today, but overall, I feel like I did a really good job of just kind of being in my own bubble and focusing on myself, and felt like it was just myself and the golf ball out there today. So yeah, I'm just gonna try and tap into that tomorrow.”

Tabuena, who led with a 63 yesterday, impressively recovered from a double bogey on his opening hole.

“It was great, I was proud of the way I fought,” said the 28 year old.

“I didn't get off to a good start, a bit of an errant drive again on the 11th hole [he started on the back nine], pulled it and had to take an unplayable. But told myself that there's a lot of holes left, there's two more days left, you know there's no need to panic or there's no need to be worried. You know you've been playing well and just got to keep patient and just trot along.”

The Filipino admits to not being far away from playing his best golf.

He added: “I believe I'm pretty close, like I said, I have a lot of confidence. But you also gotta learn how to control it right? Especially on this course you know, it's very easy to be overconfident. So, just gotta stick to my routine, stick to my game plan and I know that if I do that, I will have a shot on the back nine on Sunday.”

Korean Yoseop Seo returned a 64 and is solo fourth, five back from Kho.

Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond (67) and Suradit Yongcharoenchai (68) are a further stroke back along with Zimbabwe’s Kieran Vincent (67).

Australia’s Wade Ormsby, winner of the International Series Thailand two weeks ago and a two-time Hong Kong Open champion at HKGC, shot a 70 and is one under. 

England’s Ian Poulter, the Hong Kong Open winner here in 2010, carded a 72 to finish on even par which was the cut mark.

The tournament also has the honour of being part of The Open Qualifying Series, with the leading four players not otherwise exempt earning a place in The Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in July.


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March 24, 2023 - By Asian Tour Press Release

Relentless Tabuena on the attack

Relentless Tabuena on the attack

Miguel Tabuena’s hot streak continued today at the World City Championship presented by the Hong Kong Golf Club when he fired an outstanding seven-under-par 63 to take the lead on day one.
The Filipino won The DGC Open presented by Mastercard last week for his first victory on the Asian Tour since 2018 and he was bang in form again today on the Composite Course at the Hong Kong Golf Club.
Hong Kong’s rising young star Taichi Kho shot a 64 and is second, ahead of Australian Scott Hend, who carded a 65.
Tabuena playing in the afternoon and in pursuit of Kho’s morning score was quickly into his stride with birdies on the first, third, fifth and sixth to make the turn in four under. And a run of four birdies in a row from the 11th saw him take control of the US$1 million tournament. 
He dropped his only shot of the day on 16 and holed a brilliant 18 footer to save par on the last.
“I am riding on some of the momentum from last week,” said Tabuena, whose win last week was his third on the Asian Tour.
“It is nice to be bogey free for 34 holes including last week but I had an errant tee shot on 16 but other than that I am playing great golf. It is very early in the week to even think about the finish line but if I play the way I am playing I know I will give myself a good chance, on the back nine on Sunday.”
His victory last Sunday drained him both mentally and physically so his fitness coach Dr Harry Sese in the United States gave him some sound advice.
Tabuena said: “It’s been five years since I have experienced a victory on the Asian Tour and I got a text from Harry Sese, who works on my fitness and is the main guy for Jon Rahm and a fellow Filipino, saying ‘Migs stay hydrated, I know your energy levels can be low especially after a win so it’s very important to recover’.”  
Rookie professional Kho was unveiled as the Hong Kong Golf Club’s Ambassador this week and he has quickly repaid the famous Club’s faith in him by also firing a brilliant round made up of an eagle, five birdies and just one bogey.
“Just an incredible start,” said 22-year-old Kho, who made it through the Asian Tour Qualifying School in January and made the cut in the two events he has played in so far.
“I went out there with no expectations. I was quite nervous, there has been a lot going on with media. I was really nervous waking up this morning but once I stepped onto the tee it kind of flowed. Had a good round but was more proud about how I was able to channel that. I used the nerves and adrenaline to my advantage.
“I have got to say thank you to everyone who came this week and will continue to come out, whether following me or other Hong Kong players, it’s really great to feel that kind of support.”
Kho has played here many times and became a member in January and so was able to draw on his extensive local knowledge of the Composite Course – which uses the best of the holes from the New and Eden courses.
He said: “I realised certain clubs off the tee I was choosing quite differently from my playing partners. In that sense I see the golf course in a certain way. Whenever I see certain shots I feel very confident that’s the right shot.” 
That was certainly the case when he began his round. Starting on hole 10 he birdied that hole as well as the following two before an eagle on 13.
Hend, who won the Hong Kong Open here in 2014, is still struggling with an upset tummy which he picked up in New Delhi last week but that did not stop him from shooting a low number, highlighted by three closing birdies. 
“Got off to a slow start today, didn’t hole any putts,” he said.
“The golf course is playing a little different to what we are used to, just got to be a bit patient and figure the greens out. Felt like I had a better handle on them on the second nine.
“It’s in between growth season so the leaf on the greens is different from when we play in November when it’s quite a tight nap and they are quite fast, at the moment it’s more of a nappy sort of a green but they are still pretty quick but it’s a different break, need to pick different lines. Condition wise the course is magnificent.”
England’s Ian Poulter, the 2010 Hong Kong Open champion, shot a 68, while Wade Ormsby, the Hong Kong Open winner in 2017 and 2020 and the International Series Thailand two weeks ago, from Australia came in with a 69.
The World City Championship presented by the Hong Kong Golf Club is the first international golf tournament in the Special Administrative Region of China for 38 months.
The tournament also has the honour of being part of The Open Qualifying Series, with the leading four players not otherwise exempt earning a place in The Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in July.

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March 23, 2023 - By Asian Tour Press Release

Miguel’s Mastercard 65 secures him victory at The DGC Open

Miguel’s Mastercard 65 secures him victory at The DGC Open

Filipino Miguel Tabuena fired an inspired seven-under-par 65 to win The DGC Open presented by Mastercard at Delhi Golf Club today and claim his first title on the Asian Tour in just over four years.

The 28 year old, six behind overnight leader Rashid Khan from India at the start of the day, confidently glided around DGC’s challenging Lodhi Course shooting seven birdies and no bogeys to finish on 12 under and beat Khan by one.

Khan, himself chasing a first Asian Tour victory in nine years, closed with a 72, while Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat finished one shot back to claim third place outright with a 68.

Tabuena, playing in the penultimate group, gradually reeled Khan, who started the day with a three-shot lead over countryman Chikkarangappa S, in and was four behind him at the turn, thanks to three birdies, before a brilliant back nine saw him catch and overtake the Indian.

The Filipino birdied 10, 12, 15 and 16 while Khan dropped shots on 15 and 17, where he had a bad lie in a greenside trap on the par three and failed to get up and down. Khan needed an eagle on the par-five 18th to draw level, but his approach just missed the green from where he chipped to four feet and made a four.

A one hour and 20 minute delay caused by inclement weather while Khan was playing the 14th did little to help the India’s chances, while Tabuena’s round was one short of the course record.

“I feel great,” said Tabuena, who becomes only the second player from his country to win in India after his legendary compatriot Ben Arda’s success in the Indian Open in 1969.

“I have been playing well, very well for the past few months and I really believed that another win was coming very soon. I told myself to just stick to the game plan, you have been playing awesome the first few days.”

The win completes something of a comeback for Tabuena who only just kept his Tour card on the Order of Merit in 2022 taking the last spot and who had to deal with the trauma of his father having a heart by-pass last year. 

He first tasted victory on the Asian Tour at the Philippine Open in 2015 before his second win at the Queen’s Cup at the end of 2018.

“It is very, very easy to get too aggressive at Delhi Golf Club and I was very, very happy with how we stuck mentally to our game plan,” he added.

“I executed each shot the way I wanted to. It is hard to describe, it is great to be back in the winner’s circle and I really believe there is way more room for improvement still. 

“To be honest bogey free Delhi Golf Club on a Sunday is probably the best feeling in the world. As soon as I got my scorecard I thought ‘did I really just shoot seven under in Delhi Golf Club at one of the hardest courses we play on the Asian Tour?’ I shot one of the best rounds of my career on a Sunday. I didn’t force any shots, even though it was very easy to. I am pretty overwhelmed, I am pretty tired physically and mentally also.”

Khan will be bitterly disappointed not to have prevailed today. Since winning the SAIL-SBI Open at DGC in 2014 he has now finished second on five occasions here. He was also second twice on the Asian Tour last year, suggesting his time for another victory will surely come soon.

“I wasn't hitting it well at all and the worst part was that this is the first time in my life where I couldn't hit hard,” he said. 

“I wasn't able to swing it well. I have a problem in my swing which I'm working on, and I played this week only on my putter, that's it. And I just didn't hole my putts today.

“On the 17th, I had to go for it. I was trying to hit my eight iron and I thinned it again and ended up making a bogey. So, you know when you are two shots back and going into the last hole, that's different. 

“If I had gone aggressive today, the score could have been even worse. During the break, I went to the range and was hitting it well but on the golf course it was a different story. I am taking an off next week.”

The Asian Tour journeys to the World City Championship at the Hong Kong Golf Club next week from March 23-26.

March 19, 2023 - By Asian Tour Press Release

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