Bae blasts 64 to lead SK Telecom Open
BY iseekgolf.com | Asian Tour | 2007 SK Telecom Open | Round One | 24 May 2007
Local hero Bae Sang-moon blasted an eight-under-par 64 for the early lead in the opening round at the SK Telecom Open on Thursday.
The 20-year-old Korean enjoyed a bogey free round that included eight birdies as he took a one stroke lead over compatriot Kim Hyung-tae and Jun Tae-hyun in tied second place at the BA Vista Country Club.
Under calm conditions in the opening day, Thai newcomer Panuwat Muenlek was in joint fourth spot after a steady 66 alongside Korea’s Kang Sung-hoon. India’s Gaurav Ghei, Australia’s Unho Park, and Yasin Ali of England were all three strokes behind the leader after a 67 in tied sixth place together with Korea’s Choi Sang-ho, Kim Wi-joong, Jung Ji-ho and Joo Hewng-chul. Australia’s Aaron Baddeley shot a 71 in tied 35th position.
With the support of his mother Si Ok Hee on the bag, Bae, who turned professional in 2004, was steady from the start carding a birdie on the first hole. Bae then conquered the back nine with six more birdies and edged ahead with a final birdie on the par four 18th hole.
“My goal is to play on the Asian Tour and that is why I will try hard to finish on top here which would secure my position. I am enjoying a good run of form since my maiden win on the domestic circuit last year and I hope to continue my performance right through to the final round,” said Bae, who is playing in his third SK Telecom Open.
“I’ve not made the cut in the last two editions of the SK Telecom Open but with my strong start today, I am confident that I will be able to make the cut and then strive for the top of the leaderboard on Sunday,” he admitted.
Bae had previously won on the secondary Tour in Korea in 2004 as an amateur and subsequently turned professional. He enjoyed his best run on the main Tour last year when he was ranked 11th as he is now determined to showcase his talent on the Asian Tour.
“I have some friends on the Asian Tour like Park Jun-won and Kim Hye-dong and would love to play with them. The Asian Tour is growing and I can gain a lot of experience playing with some of the best players in Asia, just like how it is this week,” said Bae, who picked up the game at the tender age of nine.
Kim, with 10 amateur wins in Korea, was eager to impress in front of the local crowd when he smashed in one eagle at the par five 11th hole coupled with eight birdies against three bogeys.
“I was putting really well and I am quite pleased with my performance. I always get motivated when playing in front of my home fans and with the strong Asian Tour players here this week, it’s going to be a really exciting and challenging affair,” said the 29-year-old Seoul-born talent.
The 22-year-old rookie Panuwat continued to impress on the Asian Tour when he fired eight birdies against two dropped shots at the BA Vista Country Club.
Panuwat, also with 10 amateur wins in Thailand, was calm and collected on course thanks to the support of his younger brother and caddie Porn Pong Phatlum.
“My brother is great. He jokes around and keeps me relaxed out there. He is a good support and it shows with my result today,” said Panuwat, who turned pro last year and is having his brother as a caddie for the first time in a professional event.
“I’ve been in the leading fray recently in Beijing and I wasn’t nervous then so right now, I’m going to remain calm and composed right through,” he added.
In-form Indian Gaurav Ghei, who won the Pine Valley Beijing Open in April, is enjoying the ride as he lurks in tied sixth place with five birdies.
“The conditions were not too tough and I’ll keep up my game as usual. The greens are quite tricky but overall, I’m enjoying the set up here,” said Ghei.
Source – Asian Tour