US Ryder Cup star Anthony Kim took control of the Korea Open with a seven-under 64 yesterday, finishing the opening day two shots clear of the field.
Kim, one of the sports rising stars, carried on where he left off for the US in Kentucky.
Hardly putting as foot wrong in fine weather and good conditions at the Woo Jeung Hills Country Club south of Seoul, the 23-year-old led from local Kim Jong-myung (66) in the US$1 million Asian Tour event.
“I have been touched by the support given to me by fans in Korea,” Kim told Korean media. “I want to repay them and need to stay focused for the rest of the tournament.”
“I am American but I am also Korean. As a Korean, I am proud to be in the lead but there is still a long way to go,” he said.
The Californian-born Kim birdied the first three holes on a day in which only 33 of the 132-man field broke par.
“I used my driver on almost every hole,” Kim said. “There is hardly any rough here so I am comfortable and I like it. I birdied the final hole which was nice.”
Third place was shared by five players at 5-under 67: South Koreans Park Nam-sim, Bae Sang-moon, Kim Dae-sub and Kim Wi-joong, plus Malaysian Ben Leong.
Ian Poulter, runner-up at this year’s British Open and Europe’s best player at the recent Ryder Cup, shot a 2-under 69 for a share of 15th place.
“I got off to a slow start but picked up the pace at the end of the front nine,” Poulter said. “I missed a few birdie chances. I played quite steady today and hopefully I can shoot better tomorrow.”
“I’m looking to get into a good position on Sunday. If I keep playing it steady like I did today, I will stand a strong chance,” he said.
Taiwan’s Lien Lu-sen was one of a group of players a shot further back on 3-under.
New Zealander Mark Brown, who comfortably leads the Asian Tour order of merit, had a poor day, shooting a 7-over 78 to be fourth-last.