Kang leads in Korea
BY OneAsia | OneAsia Tour | 2012 Charity High1 Resort Open | Round One | 06 Sep 2012
GUHAN, Korea, Sept. 6 – American Jason Kang made the most of a OneAsia invitation on Thursday to take the lead after the first round of the 2012 Charity High1 Resort Open, firing a six-under-par 66 that left him a shot clear of Australian Matthew Griffin and Korean Kim Bong-jin.
Kang, a Korean-American who hails from coastal California, seemed right at home in the picturesque mountains of Gangwon-do province, revelling in perfect conditions to shoot seven birdies and a lone bogey around the 6,542 metre (7,148 yard) High1 Resort Country Club course.
“It was a patient round,” said Kang, who finished 20th at OneAsia Q-School in January and is playing this week courtesy of a OneAsia Tour invitation.
“The putts rolled in so it was a pretty good round. I’m pretty pleased with the effort.”
The billion won (around U.S.$900,000) tournament — worth three times more than any other regional tour event being played this week — is the sixth leg on the OneAsia calendar and Kang said his aim for this year is to secure a full card and also try for Q-School in the United States.
His performance on Thursday came as no surprise to him, as he feels he has been putting in the work.
“I practiced pretty hard and worked on my game a lot before coming here,” he said. “I have a game plan and I’m just going to stick with it. Let’s see where that puts me.”
A shot behind Kang, Griffin also credited his best effort on OneAsia this year with determined practice.
“The last 12 month’s haven’t been where I would like to be,” he said, "but I’ve been working really hard on my game and making some swing improvements.
“I think if I can get my putter going, and improve my ball striking, then I will be right there.”
Griffin was rated Australia’s best amateur — and the third best in the world — when he turned professional in 2008, and his most lucrative year on tour was in 2010 when four top-ten finishes in a row saw him end the season in seventh place on the Order of Merit with earnings of $165,243.26.
The blemish-free round on Thursday could be a catalyst for another good run.
“It’s great to get off to a good round and being bogey-free is that much nicer,” he said. “The game has been coming along very nicely. Hopefully I’ll get a win soon.”
Kim Bong-jin repaid the faith of his main sponsor, the tournament hosts, to grab a share of second place with his best round of the year.
“I tried very hard today because we are playing at High1 and they are big supporters,” said Kim, a pro since 2003 but also seeking his first victory on any tour.
Tournament favourite Kim Bi-o, winner of two events on OneAsia this year and the Order of Merit leader with U.S. $341,634.87 in the bank, finished level par for the day on his return to the tour following a spell in the United States.
David McKenzie, Rohan Blizard, Aaron Townsend and Scott Arnold are the next best of the Australasian after Griffin, that quartet sharing 11th position at 2 under and four from Kang’s lead.
Ryan Fox, the son of New Zealand All Black rugby legend Grant Fox, finished one under for the round on his first-ever OneAsia start.
The burly Fox only turned professional this year but already boasts two National Open titles — albeit from the tiny Pacific Islands of Fiji and Tahiti.
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