Golf: Sensational Kim roars into Thai International Series lead

Sihwan Kim seized the first round lead with a 10-under 62. PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK (AFP) - American Sihwan Kim roared out of the gates at the inaugural International Series Thailand on Thursday (March 3), breaking the course record to seize the first round lead with a 10-under 62.

Thai player Phachara Khongwatmai shot 63, with compatriot Itthipat Buranatanyarat, Japan's Ryou Hisatsune, Finnish Janne Kaske, and South Koreans Bio Kim and Joohyung Kim all scoring 64 to stay in touch at the Black Mountain course at the seaside resort of Hua Hin.

The event is the first in the controversial Saudi-backed International Series on the Asian Tour, and carries a juicy US$1.5 million (S$2 million) purse.

After a wobbly start, Kim - who finished second at last week's Royal's Cup tournament, also in Thailand - kickstarted his round with an eagle just before the turn and romped home with six birdies and another eagle.

"I just caught fire for some reason, and I kind of got it going," the 33-year-old said.

"Whatever is done is done. I just plan to play my best this week." Kim, who opened with a birdie on the 10th, matched the lowest score over nine holes on the Asian Tour with an eight-under 28.

Elsewhere, Phachara got round without dropping a shot, carding nine birdies in the town where he made global headlines in 2013 after winning the Singha Hua Hin Open as a 14-year-old amateur.

"It was such a great moment for me when all of my game was good," he said.

A minute's silence was observed in memory of former Asia Tour number one and chairman Kyi Hla Han, who died in February, with players wearing green ribbons in his honour.

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