Route 66 proved the right road to take in the opening round of the Enjoy Jakarta HSBC Indonesia Open with four players - Simon Dyson of England, David Higgins of Ireland, Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand and Chinese Taipei's Wang Ter-chang - locked together in a share of the lead at the Emeralda Golf and Country Club.
Early starter Higgins was the first to post the six under par score and was soon joined by Wang from the morning session. Jaidee set out in the afternoon and looked as if he might go one better until he bogeyed the last to also shoot 66, with Dyson completing the quartet at the top of the leaderboard with a good up and down on the final hole.
Dyson has enjoyed considerable success in South East Asia, winning three titles in his rookie season in 2000. It was a stunning year in which he won the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, Rookie of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year awards. Not surprisingly he has made a number of friends out here and today returned their warm welcome with a stunning display.
An eagle on the first hole, where he holed from 20 feet, got the 28 year old off to a flying start and when he birdied the seventh, the hole was starting to look a little bigger. More birdies followed on the 12th, 13th and 15th and he managed to keep a bogey off his card with a good par saving putt from six feet on the last.
“It is always nice after 17 holes without dropping a shot to hole a nice putt on the last,” said Dyson.
Asked why he felt so comfortable in the region, he replied. “I enjoy it a lot. I have a lot of friends out here so every time I come out everyone makes you feel very welcome. The heat is not the best to play in but you forget about it and get used to it.”
Higgins has spent the last couple of weeks acclimatising to the conditions and, despite saying, “There hasn’t been a day in Ireland as hot as this for two thousand years”, looked very comfortable as he rolled in seven birdies with just the one dropped shot on the seventh hole.
“This is a start of a new year for me and I feel fresh, which is the most important thing for me, and that is showing in the scores,” said Higgins, a graduate from last year’s Challenge Tour. “I did everything quite well today and didn’t make many mistakes. Just one major mistake and bogeyed that hole. But overall drove it well and hit my irons well.”
Of the leading quartet Jaidee is potentially the most dangerous. Having won the Maybank Malaysian Open in 2004 and 2005, Jaidee knows what it takes to win an event joint sanctioned by The European Tour and the Asian Tour and in finishing second two weeks ago proved his game is on song. He has also won a further five titles on the Asian Tour and twice won the Asian Tour Order of Merit title.
Like Dyson, Jaidee started with an eagle and followed that with six birdies but bogeys on the sixth and 18th holes, where he missed the fairway on both occasions, cost him the outright lead.
“After Malaysia I worked on my game and I’m pleased with the progress,” said Jaidee. “I came here with a positive feeling and hope to deliver a good result.”
The experienced Wang ended a six year title drought when he won the Macau Open last season and continues to show he is at the top of his game with a fine opening round but also dropped two shots.
“I’m happy with how I performed today,” said the 42 year old. “The greens are similar to the courses in Chinese Taipei so that helped.”
Another four players share lie a shot back on five under par but it was a tough day for two of the pre-tournament favourites as Stephen Dodd of Wales battled to a three under par 69 while Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand opened his defence of the title with a level par 72.