Thursday, December 03, 2009

Chan Yih-shin (64) leads King's Cup tournament in Thailand

Khon Kaen, Thailand: Chinese Taipei’s Chan Yih-shin made a spirited start with a sparkling eight-under-par 64 to take the first-round lead at the King’s Cup today.
The 32-year Chan, who is chasing his first Asian Tour victory, brilliantly fired nine birdies at the Singha Park Khon Kaen Golf Club to o pen up a two-stroke lead over India’s rising star Anirban Lahiri, who shot an impressive 66 at the US$300,000 event presented by Singha and Sports Authority of Thailand.
Unheralded Thai Somsak Khaopratoom, Lin Wen-hong of Chinese Taipei and C. Muniyappa of India are a further stroke back after shooting 67s in the final tournament of the season.
Gaurav Ghei of India and New Zealander Mark Purser are among those in tied sixth place on 68 while local hero Thongchai Jaidee, who has already wrapped up a record third Asian Tour Order of Merit title, o pen ed his campaign with an error-strewn 70.
Chan’s highlight of the round came at the 13th hole where he chipped in for birdie from 35 yards out. “Everything clicked and I am happy to lead by two,” said Chan, who effectively established a new course record as the club was o pen ed for play earlier this year.
The man from Taipei hopes lessons learnt at last month’s Barclays Singapore O pen , where he was in contention before fading at the weekend, will put him in good stead in his hunt for a first title at the King’s Cup, which is making its debut on the Asian Tour.
“I wasn’t feeling relaxed in Singapore so I have learned my lesson and will try to keep myself calm throughout the week,” said Chan, whose best finish this season was fifth at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters.
Lahiri, who is amongst an exciting generation of talented youngsters to emerge from India , was thrilled with his round that included seven birdies. The Indian was particularly delighted to birdie the challenging 514-yard par four ninth hole.
“They moved the tee box up by 50 yards as it’s into the wind but the ninth hole is still the
hardest on the course, so it was good to score there. Finding the speed of the greens here is tough but I managed to gauge the speed well and that will be a huge factor this week,” said Lahiri, who is currently 27th on the rankings following four top-10s.
“I’m mentally more relaxed as I don’t need to fight to keep my Tour card. There is no pressure on me to perform so I’m just going out to have fun and hopefully things will fall into place,” he added.
Muniyappa, who broke through with a popular win at the Hero Honda Indian O pen in October, soared with a chip-in eagle at the 15th hole. “The eagle was the turning point. After four holes I was two-under but after that I couldn’t hole the putts and then chipped in on 15,” he said.
Playing in his first Asian Tour tournament, little known Somsak emerged as the surprise name amongst the Thai hopefuls. He chipped in for birdie on the third hole from 20 yards to add to five other birdies.
“I was a bit nervous but luckily for me, my iron play was fantastic. I hit 13 greens and that turned my game around. I was aiming to shoot even-par so this result is good,” said the 23-year-old.
Thongchai, searching for a third victory of the year, endured a tough start as he mixed his card with six birdies against four bogeys. He is six shots behind the leader.
“I hit some poor drives into water on four and six and made bogeys there. The par threes here are tough and it’s hard to make a good score. Two under is still a good start and I’m surprised to see eight-under leading as the course is tough,” said the Thai hero.
Chinese stalwart Liang Wen-chong, ranked second behind Thongchai, withdrew from the King’s Cup after playing nine holes, where he was two under, due to a sore back.
Par 72
64 Chan Yih-shin (TPE)
66 Anirban Lahiri ( IND )
67 Lin Wen-hong (TPE), Somsak Khaopratoom (THA), C. Muniyappa ( IND )
68 Apisit Nimnuan (THA), Mark Purser (NZL), Gaurav Ghei (IND), Panuwat Muenlek (THA), Apichai Leelakajornjit (THA), Nakul Vichitryuthasastr (THA)
69 Masaki Sakata (JPN), Ross Bain (SCO), Lee Sung (KOR), Corey Harris ( USA )
70 Artemio Murakami (PHI), Thongchai Jaidee (THA), Kim Dae-Hyun (KOR), Pariya Junhasavasdikul (THA), Shaaban Hussin (MAS)



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