As many predicted Korean Bio Kim asserted his influence on the GS Caltex Maekyung Open today and moved to the top of the leaderboard at Namseoul Country Club at the halfway mark.
In-form and with an impressive track record here at Namseoul this week’s hot favourite leads on seven under, although shares the limelight with compatriots Dongmin Lee and Minhyuk Song, a 17-year-old amateur, who joined him in front.
Kim, who won this event at the same venue in 2012, shot a three-under-par 68 while veteran Lee carded a 70 and Song, an impressive 66.
India’s Viraj Madappa, inspired by a hole in one, shot a 65 to sit a shot back with Korean Jiho Yang, who returned a 67.
Kim grew up playing top-level amateur golf at Namseoul and made his debut on the Asian Tour when tied fourth in the 2007 GS Caltex Maekyung Open before claiming equal third the following year, remarkably on both occasions he was still an amateur.
And as a member of the professional ranks, he has also posted five other top-five finishes in addition to his victory a decade ago when the event was not on the Asian Tour schedule.
The 31-year-old was quickly into his stride today thanks to three birdies on the front nine. He made an unexpected double-bogey on the 13th but confidently bounced back with birdies on the next two holes.
“I felt comfortable out there today and it was certainly inspiring to play in front of such big crowds. We haven’t done that in a long time,” said Kim.
“It’s great to still be playing at the same level I have been this year and put myself into a good position into the weekend.”
He’s been the cusp of a first Asian Tour victory several times since its restart at the end of last year, recording five top-five finishes plus two other top-10s.
Little-known Song is enjoying playing the finest tournament of his fledgling career.
“I am now tied first! I feel like I’ve been given a whole new opportunity,” said the youngster, who suffered a herniated disk last year.
Madappa aced the par-three third with a seven iron to help make his move in an event he is competing in for the first time.
“One of the main reasons why I came here you know: the legend of Namseoul,” said the 24-year-old Indian, who has triumphed once on the Asian Tour at 2018 TAKE Solutions Masters on home soil.
“I was really excited to start the week here and I think it’s lived up to the expectation. I’m pretty sure it’s going to get a little tougher for the next few days.”
About the hole in one, he said: “It was actually anticlimactic because I thought the ball went long but it ended up going in the hole. We were actually looking for the ball and ended up looking in the hole thankfully.”
Reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion Joohyung Kim is three off the lead after a 68.
He was also particularly excited to be playing in front of so many spectators.
“It’s amazing to participate in a Korean tournament with crowds,” said 19 year old.
“It is my first time to see the gallery in Korea for a long, long time as there were no galleries last year, including at overseas tournament too, because of Covid. It was great because they cheered me on a lot.”
The rising star said he is gearing up for an epic summer as he will play in The Open, the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship.
Scores after round 2 of The 41st GS Caltex Maekyung Open Golf Championship being played at the par 71, 7047 Yards Namseoul Country Club course (am – denotes amateur):
135 – Bio Kim (KOR) 67-68, Dongmin Lee (KOR) 65-70, Minhyuk Song (am, KOR) 69-66.
136 – Viraj Madappa (IND) 71-65, Jiho Yang (KOR) 69-67.
137 – Minchel Choi (KOR) 70-67.
138 – Sanghyun Park (KOR) 69-69, Joohyung Kim (KOR) 70-68, Junsub Park (KOR) 71-67, Hyungjoon Lee (KOR) 66-72.
139 – Minjun Kim (KOR) 69-70, Khalin Joshi (IND) 68-71, Sungmin Cho (KOR) 71-68, Mingyu Cho (KOR) 69-70.
140 – Jeongwoo Ham (KOR) 69-71, Jeonghyeob Hyun (KOR) 71-69, Kyongjun Moon (KOR) 69-71, I.J. Jang (KOR) 70-70, Neil Schietekat (RSA) 68-72.
141 – Junghwan Lee (KOR) 68-73, Jaco Ahlers (RSA) 74-67, Taeyoung Kang (KOR) 71-70, Dongkyu Jang (KOR) 71-70, Junggon Hwang (KOR) 67-74, Natipong Srithong (THA) 68-73, Poom Pattaropong (THA) 70-71.
142 – Minkyu Kim (KOR) 70-72, Yoon Chung (USA) 68-74, Taehee Lee (KOR) 69-73, Veer Ahlawat (IND) 71-71, Dongeun Kim (KOR) 70-72, Sarit Suwannarut (THA) 74-68, Wonjoon Lee (AUS) 70-72, Sungho Lee (KOR) 73-69, Taehoon Ok (KOR) 69-73, Settee Prakongvech (THA) 72-70, Jinho Choi (KOR) 70-72.
143 – Joonhyeong Jeon (KOR) 69-74, Jaeho Kim (KOR) 72-71, Seonghyeon Jeon (KOR) 70-73, Richard T. Lee (CAN) 68-75, Kangho Cha (KOR) 72-71, Sangpil Yoon (KOR) 71-72, Hosung Choi (KOR) 72-71, Kyungnam Kang (KOR) 70-73, Youngwoong Kim (KOR) 71-72, Honey Baisoya (IND) 72-71, Daihan Lee (KOR) 71-72, Yeongsu Kim (KOR) 72-71, Sanghun Shin (KOR) 74-69.
144 – Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA) 72-72, Inhoi Hur (KOR) 72-72, S. Chikkarangappa (IND) 73-71, Nitithorn Thippong (THA) 73-71, Dodge Kemmer (USA) 72-72, Kim Giwhan (KOR) 70-74, Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) 70-74, Sungho Yun (KOR) 72-72, Dongmin Kim (KOR) 72-72, Seungsu Han (USA) 72-72, Jinsung Kim (KOR) 71-73, Sungkug Park (KOR) 69-75.
145 – Doyeob Mun (KOR) 68-77, Donlaphatchai Niyomchon (THA) 73-72, Mathiam Keyser (RSA) 73-72, Karandeep Kochhar (IND) 70-75, Tanapat Pichaikool (THA) 71-74, Sangchai Kaewcharoen (THA) 71-74, Kevin Phelan (IRL) 68-77, Bjorn Hellgren (SWE) 72-73, Taekgi Lee (KOR) 71-74, Jaehan Chun (KOR) 74-71.
146 – Heungchol Joo (KOR) 72-74, Yonggu Shin (KOR) 74-72, Kyungnam Park (KOR) 73-73, Koh DengShan (SIN) 74-72, Innchoon Hwang (KOR) 72-74, Kisang Lee (KOR) 69-77, Sanghee Lee (KOR) 74-72, Ian Snyman (RSA) 74-72, Sungyeol Kwon (KOR) 72-74, Guntaek Koh (KOR) 74-72, Keunho Lee (KOR) 78-68, Hyunjoon Yoo (am, KOR) 73-73.
147 – Hanbyeol Kim (KOR) 70-77, Sihwan Kim (USA) 74-73, Seung Park (KOR) 72-75, Yikeun Chang (KOR) 76-71, Charlie Wi (KOR) 76-71, Hongtaek Kim (KOR) 73-74, Soonsang Hong (KOR) 72-75, Junwon Park (KOR) 75-72, Richard Jung (CAN) 72-75, Jinjae Byun (KOR) 78-69, Yoseop Seo (KOR) 73-74, Hoyoung Choi (KOR) 69-78, Yongjun Bae (KOR) 73-74, Junseok Lee (AUS) 71-76, Kevin Yuan (AUS) 72-75, Jeongmin Park (KOR) 75-72, Travis Smyth (AUS) 75-72.
148 – Siddikur Rahman (BAN) 75-73, Shiv Kapur (IND) 76-72, Doohwan Bang (KOR) 72-76, Bongsub Kim (KOR) 74-74, Byungjun Kim (KOR) 72-76, Haecheon An (am, KOR) 74-74, Seunghyuk Kim (KOR) 71-77, Micah Lauren Shin (USA) 70-78, Eunshin Park (KOR) 74-74, Danthai Boonma (THA) 71-77, Jihoon Lee #730 (KOR) 75-73.
149 – Seukhyun Baek (KOR) 73-76, Yeunsub Kim (KOR) 72-77, Cory Crawford (AUS) 75-74, Wooyoung Cho (am, KOR) 76-73, Atiruj Winaicharoenchai (THA) 78-71, Minsu Kim #921 (KOR) 72-77, Jiwook MOON (KOR) 73-76, Junsung Kim (KOR) 78-71.
150 – Taehoon Kim #5272 (KOR) 76-74, Yubin Jang (am, KOR) 72-78.
151 – Pannakorn Uthaipas (THA) 74-77, Jongduck Kim (KOR) 72-79, Benjamin Follett-Smith (ZIM) 74-77.
152 – Scott Strange (AUS) 77-75.
153 – Gwanwoo Ma (KOR) 74-79, Rory Hie (INA) 76-77, Taeho Kim (KOR) 76-77, Seunghyun Pi (am, KOR) 73-80, Kasidit Lepkurte (THA) 72-81.
155 – Jungwon Yoon (KOR) 79-76, Danny Masrin (INA) 75-80, Aman Raj (IND) 80-75.
157 – Mingyu Jeon (am, KOR) 75-82, Woohyun Kim (KOR) 78-79, Juhyuk Park (KOR) 80-77.
158 – Euijin Lee (KOR) 74-84.
159 – Will Heffernan (AUS) 83-76.
169 – Taewoo Kim #1087 (KOR) 85-84.
+3 (145) was the final cut, 72 players made the cut
Nicholas Fung, Malaysia – RT
Piya Sawangarunporn, Thailand – RT
Jaekyeong Lee, Korea – WD
Phachara Khongwatmai, Thailand – WD