(Reuters) - South Korea’s Kim Hyung-sung carded a bogey-free seven-under-par 65 to take a one-stroke lead after the opening round of the Thailand Open on Thursday.
Kim holed four birdies on the front nine and gained a further three shots after making the turn to stay ahead of young Thai Panuphol Pittayarat, who finished the day in second place after a round of 66.
Australian Joshua Younger was a further shot back in third in the $1 million tournament, jointly sanctioned by OneAsia and the Japan Golf Tour.
The 35-year-old Kim said his prior experience of playing in Thailand had helped to keep the errors out of his game in the searing heat in Pattaya.
“I was a bit lucky today as I missed a few greens but managed to get up and down safely,” Kim told reporters at the Plantation Course at Siam Country Club.
”I am happy to be leading the tournament. The heat is unbelievable and I had to keep my focus.
“However, I am used to conditions in Thailand as I train here over the (Korean) winter. I am really comfortable playing here.”
Panuphol, better-known by his nickname “Coconut”, shot his second bogey of the round on the final hole, which dropped him from a share of the lead.
“This is my best day of the year so far. I have been struggling with my putting and tee shots and my chipping a bit. I have been practicing hard and it has been paying off,” the 22-year-old said.
“I hit 14 fairways today and just missed one and gave myself opportunities to make birdies. My irons were good and I birdied two par threes. I took my chances and holed a lot of putts.”
Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Toby Davis