BANGKOK: South Korea’s Bi-o Kim snatched the clubhouse lead on day one of the Laguna Phuket Championship after firing an impressive 8-under 62 on Thursday.
Seven birdies and an eagle helped the 31-year-old finish ahead of Thailand’s Chanachok Dejpiratanamongkol and Australian Travis Smyth who were both tied for second and a stroke off the pace.
“My form is actually in very good shape... so hopefully next couple of rounds I will keep going and maybe, maybe, at the end, I’m holding something,” Kim said.
Kim finished joint fourth in last week’s Blue Canyon Phuket Championship.
This week’s US$1 million (RM4.2m) tournament on the popular Thai holiday island marks the second Asian Tour tee-off since the Malaysian Open in March 2020.
Early last month Kim claimed the LG Signature Players Championship on the Korean PGA Tour – his sixth victory on home soil.
Home turf hopeful Chanachok was bogey free and notched up seven birdies for a 63 seven-under-par result.
The 27-year-old, who won at the course four years ago, said he lost 15kg over 12 months after adopting a vegan diet.
“It’s really helped my fitness and energy levels. But being here again at Laguna Phuket is also special for me,” he said.
Smyth, who is looking for his first win on the Asian Tour, has been in solid form and finished a respectable tenth in last week’s championship.
“(I’m) hitting it fairly straight on this type of tight course and taking advantage of the par fives out there,” he said.
Smyth has endured back spasms and foot pain in the past week and has been working frequently with a physio.
“Hopefully the back holds up for the rest of the week,” Smyth said.
Forty players did not finish their rounds because of poor weather and will continue on Friday.
Last week Taiwan’s Chan Shih-chang sealed a gripping last-hole victory in the Blue Canyon event. – AFP