Day one of The 38th Shinhan Donghae Open witnessed some remarkably low scoring today with Canadian Richard T. Lee taking the lead with a sensational nine-under-par 62, which is a course-record at Koma Country Club in Nara near Osaka, while Thailand’s Nitithorn Thippong returned a 63.

Thailand’s Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was also in rampant form carding a 64, while Korean PGA Tour star Siwoo Kim and his compatriot Taeho Kim, Filipino Juvic Pagunsan, Japan’s Yuki Furukawa and Americans Seungsu Han and Todd Baek fired 65s.

It’s the first time the tournament, one of Korea’s most prestigious events have been played in Japan, and boasting a purse of KRW1,400,000,000 (approximately US$1,050,500) it is being tri-sanctioned by the Asian, Korean and Japan Tours.

Lee, aged 31, won this event in 2017 for one of two victories on the Asian Tour, and despite it being held in a different country he felt right at home from-the-get-go. Stating on the back nine he made four birdies and five on his second half.

He said: “Like the fairways here, you gotta hit fairways, the rough is up, and the greens are actually playing pretty fast, but I like fast greens. It was a bogey-free round and I felt I took advantage of the par fives pretty well today.”

Lee is clearly coming into good form as he tied for second in the International Series Singapore last month.  

“To be honest I have not had any good results in Japan before, but I have always played well in the Shinhan Donghae Open, which has been kind of funny. I think I just like the atmosphere of this tournament and I think they run it very well,” added Lee.

The previous course record was held by Japan’s Rikuya Hoshino who carded a 63 in the final round of 2019 Kansai Open, on the Japan Tour.

Nitithorn’s undeniable talent and growing reputation as a star of future was on display again today. He is one of only two players to have tasted victory twice this year: in The DGC Open presented by Mastercard and the International Series Singapore.

“I didn’t expect to shoot a score like that, but I drove the ball very good – which is key for the course as the next shot is not very far,” said the 25 year old, who was in the first group out today at 6.50am local time.

“I am really happy, it’s awesome, the course is not that long. Every guy came here for a win, and I will certainly try my best to do that. Yes, I won in Singapore and India, but the past is the past, I want to focus on the present.

Like Lee he started on 10 and was bogey free and birdied five of the last seven holes on the back nine.

Defending champion Yoseop Seo came in with a 69 while current Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Bio Kim from Korea came in with a 71.

India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar, winner of this event in 2016, carded a 72.

Korean Taehoon Ok, who won the International Series Korea two weeks ago, was forced to withdraw because of a back injury.

It is the first time the prestigious tournament has been played on the Asian Tour in three years because of the pandemic. 

Scores after round 1 of the The38th Shinhan Donghae Open being played at the par 71, 7065 Yards Koma Country Club course (am – denotes amateur):
62 – Richard T. Lee (CAN).
63 – Nitithorn Thippong (THA).
64 – Tirawat Kaewsiribandit (THA).
65 – Yuki Furukawa (JPN), Siwoo Kim (KOR), Seungsu Han (USA), Taeho Kim (KOR), Juvic Pagunsan (PHI), Todd Baek (USA).
66 – Hideto Tanihara (JPN), Jinho Choi (KOR), Kazuki Higa (JPN), Jbe Kruger (RSA), Riki Kawamoto (JPN), Shingo Katayama (JPN), Mikiya Akutsu (JPN), Siddikur Rahman (BAN), Tomohiro Kondo (JPN), Brad Kennedy (AUS), Sanghee Lee (KOR).
67 – Hanbyeol Kim (KOR), Younghan Song (KOR), Sungho Yun (KOR), Ben Leong (MAS), Prom Meesawat (THA), Dongkyu Jang (KOR), Toshinori Muto (JPN), Yuto Katsuragawa (JPN), Jiho Yang (KOR), Kodai Ichihara (JPN), Yosuke Asaji (JPN), Doyeob Mun (KOR), Travis Smyth (AUS).
68 – Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND), Bongsub Kim (KOR), Yusaku Miyazato (JPN), Keunho Lee (KOR), Hosung Choi (KOR), Yosuke Tsukada (JPN), Inhoi Hur (KOR), Dongmin Kim (KOR), Tomohiro Ishizaka (JPN), Daihan Lee (KOR), Kyongjun Moon (KOR), Mingyu Cho (KOR), Yonggu Shin (CAN), Naoyuki Kataoka (JPN), Junsung Kim (KOR), Ryosuke Kinoshita (JPN), Danthai Boonma (THA), Seonghyeon Jeon (KOR), Shihchang Chan (TPE), Kyungtae Kim (KOR), Hiroshi Iwata (JPN), Minchel Choi (KOR), Sungkug Park (KOR), Ryuichi Oiwa (JPN).
69 – Eunshin Park (KOR), S.S.P. Chawrasia (IND), Yoseop Seo (KOR), Shiv Kapur (IND), Shugo Imahira (JPN), Jeongwoo Ham (KOR), Kyungnam Park (KOR), Minsu Kim #921 (KOR), Hongtaek Kim (KOR), Trevor Simsby (USA), Jinichiro Kozuma (JPN), Mikumu Horikawa (JPN), Junseok Lee (AUS), David Oh (USA), Ryuko Tokimatsu (JPN), Kosuke Hamamoto (THA), Taehoon Kim (KOR), Jinjae Byun (KOR), Ryutaro Nagano (JPN), Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA), Berry Henson (USA).
70 – Yujiro Ohori (JPN), Yuki Inamori (JPN), Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA), Tadahiro Takayama (JPN), Gunn Charoenkul (THA), Janne Kaske (FIN), Brendan Jones (AUS), Tomoharu Otsuki (JPN), Yuta Uetake (JPN), Taehee Lee (KOR), Sanghun Shin (KOR), Miguel Tabuena (PHI), Heemin Chang (KOR), Sungyeol Kwon (KOR), Dongmin Lee (KOR), Koumei Oda (JPN).
71 – Bio Kim (KOR), Kunihiro Kamii (JPN), Chang Wei-lun (TPE), Jaehyung Hahm (KOR), Jeonghyeob Hyun (KOR), Sanghyun Park (KOR), Rikuya Hoshino (JPN), Yeongsu Kim (KOR), Junghwan Lee (KOR), Wei-chih Lu (TPE).
72 – Takahiro Hataji (JPN), Rory Hie (INA), Panuphol Pittayarat (THA), Yuwa Kosaihira (JPN), Junggon Hwang (KOR), Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND), Seukhyun Baek (KOR), Todd Sinnott (AUS), Heungchol Joo (KOR), Miguel Carballo (ARG), Yikeun Chang (KOR), Hirotaro Naito (JPN), Jongduck Kim (KOR), Ben Campbell (NZL).
73 – Jeongmin Park (KOR), Hyungjoon Lee (KOR), Poom Saksansin (THA), Taewoo Kim #1087 (KOR), Kyungnam Kang (KOR), Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA), Jaeho Kim (KOR), Kaito Onishi (JPN), Nicholas Fung (MAS).
74 – Wonjoon Lee (AUS), Jake Higginbottom (AUS).
75 – Daniel Fox (AUS), Guntaek Koh (KOR), Tomoyo Ikemura (JPN).
76 – Eric Chun (KOR), Seunghyuk Kim (KOR).
77 – Minung Park (KOR).

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