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Young Guns Kim and Wood Take Clubhouse Lead
Young guns Kim Bi-o of Korea and Chris Wood of England produced a solid performance to take the clubhouse lead at the Barclays Singapore Open when the opening round was suspended due to darkness on Thursday.
The duo, who played on the Tanjong course at Sentosa Golf Club, fired matching eight-under-par 63s to open up a one stroke lead over Japanese Shigeki Maruyama, a former member of the International team at the Presidents Cup in 1998 and 2000.
Gareth Maybin of Northern Ireland battled to a 65 while 10 players were bunched on identical 66s, including Thai trio Chinnarat Phadungsil, Chapchai Nirat and Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Asia’s first Major champion Yang Yong-eun of Korea.
Phil Mickelson of the United States, a four-time Major champion, fired a 67 which was matched by Malaysia’s Danny Chia and three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit champion Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand.
A total of 108 players have yet to complete the first round due to a four-hour delay at the US$6 million event, co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour, due to a lightning storm just an hour into the first round.
The Barclays Singapore Open is being played on two courses – the Serapong and Tanjong - for the first two rounds while the final two rounds will be played on the Serapong course.
Kim, who won on the local Korean circuit in August, turned in 33 before adding birdies on holes 10 and 12. He sank a pivotal birdie putt from 20 feet on the 14th to give himself the confidence to return with two further birdies on the 15th and 17th holes.
Despite shooting a bogey-free round, Kim was disappointed not to have shot a magical 59 after leaving four birdie opportunities short.
"I had a lot of chances to make birdies as I missed about four birdies from inside 10 feet. I’m still fine and happy with eight-under but I’m going to head out to the putting green and work on my putting. Hopefully I can play as good in the next few days," said the 20-year-old Kim.
He credited his strong iron play where he found 14 greens in regulation and knows he has to improve on his driving and putting when he plays the challenging Serapong course.
"I had a practice round at the Serapong course and it was long, narrow and the greens are difficult. You have got to hit it straight and I’m going to work on my game now," added Kim, who won the Korean Amateur Open and Japan Amateur Golf Championship in 2008.
Wood, last year’s Rookie of the Year on the European Tour, took advantage of the easy scoring conditions on the Tanjong course by firing eight birdies.
"The course I played today was the one you are looking to get your score in because there are a lot of good chances out there. The other course I’m playing tomorrow has a bit more meat to it so if I could shoot another one of those down there, I’ll be happy," said the 22-year-old.
With six top-10 finishes in Japan this year, Maruyama was delighted to have a good head start after firing six birdies and one eagle against one bogey.
"My driving was very good and my putting and second shot were almost perfect. I have played well in Japan this year but it is disappointing that I haven’t won anything yet because I’m an old man now," said the 41-year-old veteran, who was the star performer for the International team in the 1998 Presidents Cup where he was undefeated and claimed five points.
Chapchai, who holds the world 72-hole scoring record of 32-under-par 256 which he set in India last year, took full advantage of his big-hitting game at the Tanjong course where he returned with six birdies against one bogey.
"My tee shots and putting were all very good and I couldn’t ask for a better round where everything worked for me. It’s good to finish and it gives me a chance to rest and relax as I prepare for my second round," said Chapchai who has missed only one cut on the Asian Tour this season.