Thursday, May 10, 2012


SEOUL, South Korea - Eight players, including an unheralded Aussie who turned pro less than a year ago, shared the lead after the first round on Thursday of the 31st GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship in the Korean capital.
The leaders all shot four-under-par 68s in the billion won (around U.S. $900,000) tournament at Namseoul Country Club, the third stop on a burgeoning OneAsia tour that boasts 14  events this year with a total purse of over $16 million.
Australian Kalem Richardson, Japan's Koichi Kitamura, China's Hu Mu, American Garrett Sapp, and Koreans Kang Kyung-nam, Park Sang-hyun, Kang Wook-soon and Hur In-hoi were all jostling for position at the top of the leaderboard at the end of a day in which conditions were perfect for golf.
But it was Richardson, 24, who stole the limelight in his first full OneAsia event. The Tasmanian, who now calls Melbourne home, feared the worst after dismal practice rounds earlier in the week, but it all came good for him on Thursday.
"I sneaked out and played nine holes on Tuesday and then had a full practice round yesterday," he said. "Funnily enough it wasn't very good then. I didn't play very well at all, but today was different."
"I really enjoyed myself out there today. Things just went sort of well."
Richardson only turned pro in August and earned his spot in this week's bumper 159-player field with a seventh place finish in OneAsia's Q School in January. He is already finding life different at the top level.
"The big difference between playing as an amateur and a professional is around the greens. You just can't afford to let anything slip around the greens. You really have to try and make everything," he said.
"This is my first full tournament on OneAsia and I really  want to do well and get the opportunity to play more." 
At the other end of the age and experience spectrum but also atop the leader board was veteran Kang  Wook-soon, 45, who rolled back the years with a blemish-free round.
The well-traveled Kang topped the Asian Tour's Order of Merit in 1996 and 1998 and was also the first man to make half a million dollars on that tour in career earnings.  In 2003 he missed out by a shot at Q School for a PGA tour card, but was happy to return home as he said he missed Korean food.
Mu, who was joint sixth in the opening event of the season, the Enjoy Jakarta Indonesia Open, but missed the cut at the Volvo China Open last month, was not surprised by his excellent showing.
"Its been there all year," he said. "I just stayed really really calm out there."
"I played here the last two years and struggled a bit because my ball striking just wasn't there. Coming into this year my goal was just to improve."
"Tomorrow is the same strategy. Try to hit all the fairways and greens. This is a really narrow course and the greens aren't too difficult, but you must stay in play.
Defending champion Kim Kyung-tae, who also won in 2007 and was runner-up in 2010, was well placed after shooting a 70.
With a cut set to the top 65 professionals and ties, there will be a lot of pressure on the field tomorrow.
Thai Thaworn Wiratchant will have to improve on his 74 if he is to record back-to-back victories following his triumph in the ASEAN PGA Tour's Luang Prabang Laos Open last weekend, while Indonesia's Rory Hie faces a free weekend after shooting a 77.
Par 72. Yardage: 6,964. Players from South Korea unless stated
68 Kalem RICHARDSON (AUS), HUR In-hoi, Koichi KITAMURA (JPN), KANG Wook-soon, PARK Sang-hyun, KANG Kyung-nam, Garrett SAPP (USA), HU Mu (CHN).
69 KIM Woo-chan, SHIN Yong-jin, KIM Bi-o, HWANG In-choon, PARK No-seok, Jamie ARNOLD (AUS), LEE Jung-hwan.
70 Jason KANG (USA), Maxwell McCARDLE (AUS), Douglas HOLLOWAY (NZL), JIN Daxing (CHN), CHO Min-gyu, CHOI Ho-sung, KIM Seung-hyuk, KIM Kyung-tae, LEE Sang-hee, JUNG Ji-ho, LEE Seong-ho, PARK Jun-Won.
71 HONG Chang-kyu (USA), MA Sookil, Stephen LEANEY (AUS), HAN Min-kyu, SONG Young Han, CHOO Tze Huang (SIN), HONG Soon-sang, Scott LAYCOCK (AUS), KIM Meen-Whee, Lucas LEE (BRA), YOON Jung-ho, WU Ashun (CHN), Ted OH, LEE Chang-woo (am), KIM Wi-joong, KIM Seong-yong, MAENG Dong-seop.
72 PARK Jae-kyung, BANG Doo-hwan, Brent McCULLOUGH (AUS), Peter WILSON (AUS), KIM Jong-duck, LEE Jin-won, Ryan HALLER (AUS), Craig HASTHORPE (AUS), ZHANG Xinjun (CHN), Ashley HALL (AUS), JOO Heung-chol, Masao NAKAJIMA (JPN), KIM Gi-whan.
73 BYUN Jin-jae, SON Hyun-ho, Leigh DEAGAN (AUS), RYU Hyun-woo, Tanutchan PUAKTES (THA), Young NAM, Terry PILKADARIS (AUS), SEO Jeoung-min, YANG Ji-ho, Kim FELTON (AUS), KIM Bong-sub, Michael HENDRY (NZL), Anthony SUMMERS (AUS), Aaron TOWNSEND (AUS), KIM Si-woo (am), SONG Young-hoon (KOR), CHOI Joon-woo, LI Haotong (CHN), PARK Sung-Hyuk, PARK Jun-sub, Mark BROWN (NZL), KIM Soo-whan.
74 HONG Sung-min, LEE Ki-sang, PARK Sung-kug, MOON Kyung-jun, LEE In-woo, Andrew TSCHUDIN (AUS), Stephen DARTNALL (AUS), David OH (USA)



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