Phuket: South Korean Kim Bi-O's bid to win for the first time on the Asian Tour gathered momentum yesterday when he took the halfway lead in the US$1 million Laguna Phuket Championship at Laguna Golf Phuket.
The Korean added a four-under-par 66 to his first-round 62 and led by two shots over Thailand's Chanachok Dejpiratanamongkol (67).
Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai was a stroke further back after firing 65, one better than his compatriots Panuphol Pittayarat and Natipong Srithong, who both shot 64.
The tournament is the second and final leg of the Asian Tour Phuket Series, which marked resumption of the circuit after a 20-month Covid-19 enforced break.
Kim had a commanding three-shot lead with two holes to play but surprisingly landed in trouble on the par-four 17th, where he made a double bogey.
His tee shot went right into pine trees and from there he found woodwork twice while trying to punch out before reaching the green with his fourth.
But he bounced back brilliantly on the par-four 18th, hitting a nine iron from 160 yard to 12 feet, which he duly converted for a birdie.
"It was one of those days when I could have done much better but luckily today is over and I will regroup tomorrow," said the 31-year-old.
"Hopefully I can do a little better tomorrow. I will just keep my head down and be focused. And hopefully good things happen on the weekend."
Chanachok has a special liking for the Laguna course and it continued yesterday as the Thai made an eagle and a birdie, and did not drop a shot.
He won the Phuket Open here in 2017 in brilliant fashion finishing 27 under.
"It's not easy but it's just that I did not have big trouble. I have been in good spots for up and downs," said the 27-year-old Thai.
"This week my up and down game is really good ... but the best thing for me was putting, I have not three putted yet."
Chanachok has good reason to be playing well as his wife is expecting a baby in February.