HILTON HEAD ISLAND (South Carolina): South Korea’s KJ Choi, who tied for fourth with Tiger Woods at the Masters last week, continued his strong play Thursday to seize the first-round lead at the Heritage.
Choi, who played with Woods all four rounds at Augusta National, showed no sign of a let-down as he fired a seven-under 64 to take a two-shot lead.
Canadian Mike Weir and England’s Greg Owen shared second on 66, with a big group on 67 including Spain’s Sergio Garcia, American Jim Furyk and Davis Love, a five-time winner here.
While many of last week’s Masters standouts, including champion Phil Mickelson and Woods, are taking this week off, Choi was happy to try to build on his momentum.
“I’ve been playing good and I guess I wanted to keep the rhythm going,” he said.
“And now that I’m here and I see the reactions of the gallery, the sponsors, I feel a lot of support here.”
Choi nabbed three birdies over four holes on the front nine at Harbour Town to take the lead. He separated himself with a similar burst on the back nine as he notched his lowest score of the season.
Weir, too, had only played here once before, in 1999. But the 2003 Masters champion is planning to take a break this summer for some family celebrations – he and wife Bricia’s 40th birthdays, his brother’s 50th and his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary – so he wanted to play some earlier tournaments.
There was a fun flashback for Jerry Kelly, whose hole-in-one at the par-three fourth was his second at the same hole, which he aced in 2007.
“Same club, too,” Kelly said of his four-iron, which helped him join the group on 67.
n SUZHOU (China): South Korean young gun Kim Do-hoon shot a three-under 69 yesterday to lead by one stroke at the halfway stage of the China Open and stay ahead of a powerful chasing pack.
Lurking just behind the 21-year-old at the event are Asia’s first major winner Yang Yong-eun, Thai veteran Thongchai Jaidee and Welshman Jamie Donaldson,
Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal (69) and Sweden’s Mikko Ilonen (67) share fifth place at nine-under, while Chinese star Liang Wenchong (70) is alone at eight-under at the Suzhou Jinji Lake International Golf Club near Shanghai.
Kim could even afford a bogey on the 18th, the hardest hole on the course at following birdies on three, nine, 10 and 12.
“I thought I’d be nervous because it’s such a big event, but I’m not nervous at all. There are some world-class players in the field, but that doesn’t bother me,” said Kim, who finished runner-up in last year’s SK Telecom Open.
Defending champion Scott Strange of Australia missed the cut after rounds of 76 and 72 at the event, co-sanctioned by OneAsia and the European Tour.— AFP
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