Spain’s star-in-the-making David Puig says he is embracing the opportunity to travel extensively in the formative years of his career after firing an eight-under-par 64 to take the lead on the opening day of the Shinhan Donghae Open today.

Brushing off having only arrived on Tuesday night from Spain, for his first-ever visit to Korea, he overpowered the Ocean Course at Club72, near Incheon airport, making eight birdies – including six on the front side for a six-under-par 30.

Australian Anthony Quayle and Thailand’s Phachara Khongwatmai came in with 65s while Zimbabwean Kieran Vincent, Korea’s Ok Taehoon, and Ryutaro Nagano and Ryuko Tokimatsu from Japan carded 66s on a hot and humid day in the Asian Tour’s 14th event of the season. 

Puig has been superb since joining the Asian Tour last year, soon after turning professional. He has regularly been in contention, finishing in the top-15 five times in just eight starts, including a third-place finish in the International Series Morocco last year – his debut event on the Asian Tour – and an equal fourth placing at the International Series England, just three weeks ago.

“All this travelling, it’s different for sure but it’s experience,” said the 21-year-old, who plays for Torque GC – the dominant team on the LIV Golf League this season having won four times.

“For sure I am learning new things, new places, getting to know different courses and weather, and types of grass. It’s great. I am going to play as much as I can, I am 21, so this was a good week for me to come. Week off last week, play here, then week off before LIV Golf Chicago.” 

After playing the St Andrews Bay Championship two weeks ago he took the whole of last week off and only played again on Monday morning.

He said: “I didn’t practice for eight days and then I got here. I was in Spain last week after St Andrews and the last day I played, I played Monday morning before going to the airport. Played there with my family, then jumped on a plane, direct, 12 hours. I am bit rusty, but sometimes it’s a bit better when you don’t think that much.”

He also performed well in Scotland, tying for 14th, and is clearly in form this week as well.
“Played pretty good today obviously, did a lot of good things. I got here Tuesday night and practised yesterday. I am still pretty tired but somehow I played pretty good,” he said. 

“It is my first time in Korea. The golf course is good, it fits my game pretty good. I hit plenty of drivers and the fairways are soft. I hit it pretty far, so I have an advantage on that, and the greens are super firm. It suits me. We played courses recently when the greens where super soft. Here I hit wedges and the ball stays where it is supposed to stay.”

Quayle, who plays on the Japan Golf Tour, is nursing a sore back but was delighted it did not trouble him today. 

He said: “It was nice. I didn’t have the best prep coming into the week. I hurt my back last week, so I tried to be a little bit more low-key in my preparation and be a little bit more cautionary.

“Came out today, back felt great, everything felt pretty good. I probably had low expectations, so was able to play freely and roll a few in.

“Not sure what the back issue is. I saw the physio yesterday, my self-diagnosis was wrong – which is probably not uncommon for a professional golfer. But the physio said it looked like I was overloading my back pelvic incorrectly for a period of time. What he did yesterday helped a lot.”

Quayle was also on course for a 64 but dropped his only shot of the day after bogeying the par-five 18th.

“I am a bit disappointed with the bogey on 18,” said the Australian, who started brilliantly by holing a 50-footer for birdie on the first.

“Felt like I played the hole really well. The third shot I hit in I thought was perfect, thought I had hit my number. But it just landed over and on the collar of the green, and I just didn’t handle the lie really well and duffed it short. It is what it is.”

Other performances of note are American Seungsu Han (68), winner of this year’s Kolon Korea Open, Korean Kim Bio (68), who won the LX Championship on the Korean PGA Tour last week, and Hong Kong’s Taichi Kho (69).

Filipino Miguel Tabuena, in second place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit and looking to close the gap on top ranked Andy Ogletree from the United States, who is not here this week, also shot 69 – allaying any concerns for the moment over a troubling wrist injury.

Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa, the winner of 18 titles in Japan, returned a 71.

This week’s KRW1.4 billion (about US$1 million) event is being tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, Japan Golf Tour and Korean PGA Tour for the third time.

Scores after round 1 of the The 39th Shinhan Donghae Open being played at the par 72, 7204 Yards Club72 Country Club course (am – denotes amateur):
64 – David Puig (ESP).
65 – Anthony Quayle (AUS), Phachara Khongwatmai (THA).
66 – Ryutaro Nagano (JPN), Taehoon Ok (KOR), Kieran Vincent (ZIM), Ryuko Tokimatsu (JPN).
67 – Riki Kawamoto (JPN), Wonjoon Lee (AUS), Minkyu Kim (KOR), Wooyoung Cho (am, KOR), Junseok Lee (AUS), Minjun Kim (KOR).
68 – Seungsu Han (USA), Yonggu Shin (CAN), Taehoon Kim (KOR), Tomoharu Otsuki (JPN), Junghwan Lee (KOR), Taihei Sato (JPN), Younghan Song (KOR), Bio Kim (KOR), Sanghyun Park (KOR), Richard T. Lee (CAN), Heemin Chang (KOR), Seonghyeon Jeon (KOR).
69 – Viraj Madappa (IND), K.T. Kim (KOR), Taichi Kho (HKG), Daijiro Izumida (JPN), Hanbyeol Kim (KOR), Kevin Yuan (AUS), Doyeob Mun (KOR), Mikiya Akutsu (JPN), Kyongjun Moon (KOR), Scott Hend (AUS), Todd Baek (USA), Shaun Norris (RSA), Eric Sugimoto (JPN), Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA), Dongeun Kim (KOR), Miguel Tabuena (PHI), Mingyu Cho (KOR), Taehee Lee (KOR), Dongmin Lee (KOR), Guntaek Koh (KOR).
70 – Shunya Takeyasu (JPN), Veer Ahlawat (IND), Sadom Kaewkanjana (THA), Brad Kennedy (AUS), Sarit Suwannarut (THA), Eunshin Park (KOR), Jinho Choi (KOR), Hyungjoon Lee (KOR), Junggon Hwang (KOR), Taiga Nagano (JPN), Yongjun Bae (KOR), Hyunwoo Ryu (KOR), Ryo Ishikawa (JPN), Sungho Yun (KOR), Yuta Ikeda (JPN), Shintaro Kobayashi (JPN), Zach Murray (AUS), Inhoi Hur (KOR), Taeho Kim (KOR), Travis Smyth (AUS), Jaeho Kim (KOR), Jeongwoo Ham (KOR), Kodai Ichihara (JPN), Tirawat Kaewsiribandit (THA), Chung Yoon (USA).
71 – Jinjae Byun (KOR), Shugo Imahira (JPN), Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA), Tomoyasu Sugiyama (JPN), Tomoyo Ikemura (JPN), Miguel Carballo (ARG), Galam Jeon (KOR), Han Lee (USA), Jarin Todd (USA), Sungkug Park (KOR), Trevor Simsby (USA), Bongsub Kim (KOR), Jbe Kruger (RSA), Keita Nakajima (JPN), Brendan Jones (AUS), Seungbin Choi (KOR), Todd Sinnott (AUS), Ian Snyman (RSA), Yosuke Tsukada (JPN), Dongmin Kim (KOR), Danthai Boonma (THA), Sanghun Shin (KOR), Jaeil Song (KOR).
72 – Yikeun Chang (KOR), Hiroshi Iwata (JPN), Naoyuki Kataoka (JPN), Jihoon Lee (KOR), Taisei Shimizu (JPN), Seonghyeon Kim (KOR), Sungmin Cho (KOR), Kosuke Hamamoto (THA), Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND), Nitithorn Thippong (THA), Kyungnam Kang (KOR), Yusaku Miyazato (JPN), Ryo Katsumata (JPN), Ryuichi Oiwa (JPN), Minchel Choi (KOR).
73 – Kensei Hirata (JPN), Chanmin Jung (KOR), Jiho Yang (KOR), Yubin Jang (am, KOR), Jaemin Hwang (KOR), Jaekyeong Lee (KOR), Sihwan Kim (USA), Chan Shih-chang (TPE), Jinsung Kim (KOR), Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA), Ryosuke Kinoshita (JPN), Justin De Los Santos (PHI), Yetaek LIM (KOR).
74 – Osang Kwon (KOR), Doyeon Hwang (KOR), Junsung Kim (KOR), Jinichiro Kozuma (JPN), Siddikur Rahman (BAN), Aguri Iwasaki (JPN).
75 – Hanmil Jung (KOR), Itthipat Buranatanyarat (THA), Yuta Uetake (JPN), Dongkyu Jang (KOR).
76 – Hyungsung Kim (KOR), Gyeongjun Lee (KOR), Sanghee Lee (KOR), Yosuke Asaji (JPN).
80 – Seukhyun Baek (KOR), Yoseop Seo (KOR).
87 – Chanho Park (am, KOR).

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