South Korea’s Lee Sung surged into a two-shot halfway lead at the Black Mountain Masters yesterday, three weeks after having an implant surgically put into his right ear to help him hear after being born deaf.
It was the first time in his life he had been able to hear the applause from the galleries, the 30-year-old said, after he lit up the Asian Tour season finale with a stunning eight-under-par 64 at the Black Mountain Golf Club.
Thai youngster Namchoak Tantipokakul, fighting for his Tour card, signed for a 64 to trail the leader, who heads the field on 14-under-par 130.
Another Thai newcomer, Piya Swangarunporn, shot a 65 to lie four back in third place, followed by countryman Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who returned a 66.
“I feel happy after the operation. I can hear the ball’s impact, which helps a lot when I’m chipping. I can also hear the applause from the crowds, which is good,” said Lee, whose lone Asian Tour victory was three years ago in Thailand.
Fighting to earn his card for next year, Namchoak battled into contention with a nine birdie round.
He has lost 5kg since August and said carrying less weight has helped.
“The key this week is that I’m ready to play. To play in so many events, you need to be fit,” he said.
“This course is not an easy walk and it’s tiring but I feel confident,” said Namchoak, who tipped the scales previously at 103kg.
SOUTH AFRICAN OPEN
AFP, DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA
Only 143 minutes play was possible due to torrential rain on the opening day of the South African Open at Durban Country Club on Thursday.
Recently resurfaced greens became saturated and puddles of water dotted some fairways on the 6,156m course.
There was sufficient time for five competitors to go two-under, including two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen of South Africa.