Golf: Korean on song with hot putter

South Korean Song Young Han teeing off during the second round. His early start meant he escaped the rain.
South Korean Song Young Han teeing off during the second round. His early start meant he escaped the rain. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Superb joint course-record 63 gives him 2-shot lead with half the field yet to complete rounds

Scorecard verified, interviews completed, Song Young Han strolled out of the cordoned-off scoring tent area without stopping for autographs. To be clear, the 24-year-old South Korean was not being aloof. There were simply no fans waiting for his picture or signature.

While the soft-spoken world No. 204 in a white shirt and navy blue trousers might have been overlooked by spectators, his performance at the SMBC Singapore Open yesterday was impossible to ignore.

He tore apart the Serapong Course at Sentosa Golf Club with a sparkling eight-under 63 that catapulted him 19 spots to the top of the leader board of the US$1 million (S$1.44 million) tournament.

At nine-under 133, he holds a two-shot lead over second-placed Shintaro Kobayashi (69) of Japan. Another Korean, An Byeong Hun, was seven under but the 2015 European Tour Rookie of the Year still had 11 holes to complete.

 

For the second day in a row, thunderstorms disrupted the afternoon session. Play was suspended for 21/2 hours before it was cancelled, with half the 156-man field forced to resume play this morning.

The luck of the draw might have helped Song avoid the delay but it was his putter that hit all the right notes. He needed only 26 putts yesterday as he matched the course record set by South African George Coetzee at the 2012 edition - coincidentally also in the second round.

He rolled in seven birdies and an eagle, the latter an astounding 20m effort on the 535m, par-five fourth hole that he called the "highlight of my round". This is his first visit and being a runner-up six times in his career, he was determined to make the trip a memorable one.

He said via a translator: "I want to win the tournament. There are still 36 holes. I hope I can have the same stroke with my putter like today."

What world No. 1 Jordan Spieth, 22, would give for his own Scotty Cameron 009 prototype to conjure some magic. He misread two putts on back-to-back holes (Nos. 6 and 7) and shook his head in annoyance as he walked immediately after the stroke towards his Titleist ball.

The siren to signal the suspension of play sounded after he had putted out, sparing further misery for Spieth but not saving the ball which he tossed into the sea behind him.

He started the day four under and left with the same score. He said: "Had a couple of bad putts. Missed a short one on No. 4. On No. 7 I got a bit unlucky."

Singapore's Quincy Quek is three under after completing his first hole and like Spieth and An, will have a long day ahead. Said An: "I do not mind the delay. It means I get to play in better conditions tomorrow morning."

Meanwhile, the projected cut is one over or the top 65 and ties, leaving the likes of Ryder Cup star Jamie Donaldson, with scores of 72 and 77 for a seven-over 149, and 2008 champion Jeev Milkha Singh (152), set to miss the weekend play.

SMBC SINGAPORE OPEN

Day 3: StarHub Ch112/205 &76.25 MHz, noon

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2016, with the headline 'Korean on song with hot putter'. Print Edition | Subscribe