American Sihwan Kim broke the course record at Black Mountain Golf Club today shooting a 10-under-par 62 to take the lead on day one of the US$1.5 million International Series Thailand.
Thailand’s Phachara Khongwatmai also dismantled the course’s defenses with a 63 while his countryman Itthipat Buranatanyarat, newly crowned Asian Tour number one Joohyung Kim and Bio Kim from Korea, Ryou Hisatsune from Japan and Janne Kaske from Finland shot 64s.
Sihwan has been in brilliant form since the Asian Tour restarted at the end of last year and been in the final pairing on Sunday in three events including last week’s Royal’s Cup although victory has so far eluded him.
“Whatever is done is done. I just plan to play my best this week,” said the 33 year old, who was joint fourth in the Blue Canyon Phuket Championship, fourth in the SMBC Singapore Open and tied for second last week.
The American began today’s round on the 10th and there wasn’t much indication he was about to shoot one of the finest rounds of his career.
He said: “It was an interesting round. I didn’t get anything going on the front. After I kind of imploded on 17, when I missed a foot putt by putting it one handed, I just caught fire for some reason, and I kind of got it going.”
He eagled the par-five sixth and 18th, both times reaching the green with a three wood. He holed from 10 feet on six and 15 feet on the last.
“Golf course is really good. Conditions are great. Greens are picking up speed and the fairways are playing firm,” he added.
His front nine of eight-under-par 28 matched the lowest score over nine holes on the Asian Tour. He made eight birdies and two bogeys.
Phachara, who secured his first win on the Asian Tour at the Laguna Phuket Championship at the end of last year, has history in Hua Hin as it was here that he hit global headline in 2013 at the Singha Hua Hin Open at Royal Hua Hin Golf Course, remarkably as a 14-year-old amateur. He turned professional immediately after that.
“I have good memories with my victory in Hua Hin,” said the 23 year old.
“It was such a great moment for me when all of my game was good, both timing and putting. I think golf depending on the right rhythm and timing. When the time is right, you win.
“I am so happy that big events resumed in Thailand. It offers a chance for local players including myself. I hope we have more great tournaments like this in the future.”
Joohyung Kim shot up the leaderboard at the end finishing birdie eagle birdie as did Bio Kim who made birdie on the last six holes.
Said Joohyung Kim: “It’s nice to shoot a low round because the scores are so low here. I really stuck to my gameplan today, I was really focused, and I told myself you can’t win it on the first day, you might shoot 59 today but you still have three more days. “
“It was a really hot day but fortunately I made some really good numbers on those last six holes with six birdies. I haven’t had that for a while, so it was a bonus to me. Hopefully I can do more of that over the next couple of days,” said Bio Kim.
A one-minute silence was observed for former Asian Tour number one and Chairman Kyi Hla Han who passed away recently. The moment of reflection took place at 2.13pm, as his birthday was February 13.
In honour of the legendary Myanmar golfer players are wearing green ribbons – which was one of the colours in his official logo.