Cheonan: Seungsu Han of the United States set the early pace in the 64th edition of the Kolon Korea Open yesterday, posting a flawless three-under-par 68 in the morning which was later matched by Korea's Lee Jung-Hwan and Hwang Jae-Min at the Woo Jeong Hills Country Club.
A moderate breeze offered few favours in the morning and with rainy conditions during the afternoon and the threat of thunderstorms, the early field gained a slight advantage in the 1.35 billion won event, which is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Korea Golf Association.
Lee, a two-time winner on the Korean circuit, also stayed blemish-free while Hwang capped a strong finish with three birdies in his closing six holes. Together with Han, they hold a one-shot lead over a host of players after the opening round.
Lee was glad to rediscover his best form since completing his National Service.
"I stayed bogey-free on a difficult course," he said. "I feel good because I got a good result even though the weather was bad."
"I haven't played well after coming out from the army but my game has been more stable since I got married last year."
Thailand's Nitithorn Thippong, winner of the DGC Open, opened with a birdie on 10th but dropped a shot on 13 before picking up back-to-back birdies to turn in 33. He dropped another shot on the first but recovered with a birdie on the sixth to settle for a share of fourth place.
Defending champion Junseok Lee of Australia and Korea's Kim Bi-O, placed second on the Order of Merit, returned with identical 72s while Merit leader Sihwan Kim of the United States was left to rue a disappointing 75.