Suzhou: Thai veteran Thongchai Jaidee and South Korea’s Kim Do-Hoon both smashed the course record to share the first-round lead at eight under at the Volvo China Open Thursday.
Thongchai, 40, hit six birdies and an eagle at the 14th in a bogey-free round despite hampered preparations due to a left-arm injury that forced him to withdraw in the second round of the Masters.
Kim, who also eagled the 14th, carded a 64 for the third straight week at the 2.5 million dollar event, co-sanctioned by OneAsia and the European Tour.
Home favourite Liang Wenchong, Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal and Jamie Donaldson of Wales shared third after carding six-under-par 66s at the Suzhou Jinji Lake International Golf Club near Shanghai.
Thongchai picked up his first shot on the fifth, bagged a hat-trick of birdies from seven to nine, then chipped in for eagle on the par-five 14th. Birdies on 16 and 17 put him two ahead of clubhouse leaders Liang and Larrazabal.
“I haven’t hit eight-under for a long time. It was perfect, especially as I only practised for two holes on Wednesday and quit because of the rain,” said Thongchai, a three-time winner of the Order of Merit on the rival Asian Tour.
“My arm feels better. I had an injection on Saturday, three days’ rest and was even considering withdrawing this week, but it felt better and it’s now about 70 per cent. Everything was perfect today -- my driving, my irons, my putting.”
Kim, 21, said: “I played really well and am in good form. I eagled the 14th with a 240-yard utility club approach, then holed a long putt from 15 yards,” said Kim. “I’m not expecting to shoot a 64 again, but we’ll see.”
Chinese number one Liang is aiming to secure a third successive OneAsia title in China after winning Luxehills earlier this month and the Midea China Classic last October.
“It was still cold today, so I was pleased to score as well as I did,” said the 31-year-old, who has long held the dream of winning his national open.
South Korea’s Hong Soon-Sang carded a 67, tying for sixth with 2008 champion Damien McGrane, fellow Irishmen Peter Lawrie and American Corey Pavin.
Yang Yong-Eun, Asia’s first Major winner, and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson each shot 68 to lie in a share of 10th.