Kim takes one-shot lead into the third round
Saturday, 17 April 2010
Suzhou: South Korean young gun Kim Do-Hoon shot a three-under-par 69 yesterday to lead by one stroke at the halfway stage of the China Open and stay ahead of a powerful chasing pack.
Lurking just behind the 21-year-old at the $2.5m event are Asia’s first major winner Yang Yong-Eun, Thai veteran Thongchai Jaidee and Welshman Jamie Donaldson.
Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal (69) and Sweden’s Mikko Ilonen (67) share fifth place at nine-under, while Chinese star Liang Wenchong (70) is alone at eight-under at the Suzhou Jinji Lake International Golf Club near Shanghai.
Kim could even afford a bogey on the 18th, the hardest hole on the course at following birdies on three, nine, 10 and 12.
“I thought I’d be nervous because it’s such a big event, but I’m not nervous at all. There are some world-class players in the field, but that doesn’t bother me,” said Kim, who finished runner-up in last year’s SK Telecom Open.
“I’ve only played two rounds so far, but I feel relaxed and hopefully I can go on to become champion. I’m very confident and I’ll continue to play aggressively this weekend.”
Yang, Asia’s top-ranked player, carded a 66 and was delighted after a round that featured seven birdies, including four in a row from the 11th.
“The weather was more friendly, so I was more aggressive. I’m satisfied as I didn’t have much practice, as I’ve slept a lot due to jet-lag after travelling from Augusta,” said Yang, who finished joint eighth at the Masters last week.
Thongchai, who shared a course-record 64 with Kim in the first round, continued to impress after rebounding from the left-arm injury that forced him to withdraw in the second round of the Masters.
“I hit the ball well again today, but I missed a lot of putts. I had 32 or 33 compared to 26 yesterday,” said the 40-year-old, who won two European Tour co-sanctioned titles last year.
Zhang Jin, the 14-year-old qualifier from China, missed out by one shot on becoming the youngest player ever to make the cut on the European Tour after shooting a 72 to finish one over.
Defending champion Scott Strange of Australia also missed the cut after rounds of 76 and 72 at the event, co-sanctioned by OneAsia and the European Tour.
Meanwhile, the new OneAsia Tour faces an embarrassing boycott by South Korean golfers in local tournaments because of a storm brewing over entry spots.
Media reports said Koreans were set to snub three major events on home soil because of a reduced number of entries available for local players.
The OneAsia Tour yesterday reports of a boycott threat were baseless.
The events mentioned by the Sports Seoul newspaper were the SK Telecom, Maekyung Open and Korea Open, reporting the number of entries had been cut from 60 to 40 for home players.
“Korean players are upset they’re not getting the spots they used to get on the Asian Tour,” Asian Tour chief Kyi Hla Han said. “We have never had a boycott in 20 years.”
The new Asia-Pacific OneAsia Tour was launched last year, driven by the Australian PGA with the support of the Chinese and South Korean governing bodies.
The Asian Tour, which views itself as golf’s the standard bearer in the region, has accused the new body of “cannibalising” their tournaments.
OneAsia said reports of a boycott threat was “of no substance” and predicted from their preliminary entry lists there would be “at least 60” Korean players involved.
However, a senior KPGA and KGT official insisted a pullout by South Korea players was not a hollow threat.
“We are taking this boycott very seriously,” tour operations chief Hoon Cho said via e-mail.
“Players are afraid their playing spots might be getting smaller if tournaments on the Korean Tour keeping moving into the OneAsia Tour.”