Sihwan Kim fired a fine five-under-par 66 in the second round of the SMBC Singapore Open today to take the clubhouse lead on nine under at Sentosa Golf Club.
The American opened up a three-shot lead over Korean teenage star Joohyung Kim – who came in with his second 68 to put himself in a strong position to wrap up the Asian Tour Order of Merit title at the weekend.
Korean Dongkyu Jang and Sadom Kaewkanjana from Thailand are a stroke further back following rounds of 69 and 70 respectively.
The US$1.25 million event is the final event of the year on Asian Tour. Three players were unable to finish as darkness fell.
Sihwan has good pedigree – he won the US Junior Championship in 2004, joining a host of big names players to have claimed the title including compatriots Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth – and showed that on the Serapong Course today.
He started on 10, toured the back nine in three under and after making three birdies in a row from his 11th he had a five-shot lead.
The 33 year old’s only blemish followed when he double bogeyed hole six but he responded with a birdie on the seventh.
“Feels good, I putted really well today and hopefully the rest of my game follows,” said Siwhan Kim, who also went to Stanford University at the same time as Michelle Wie.
“I don’t know [why I played so well]. To be honest, I just had a terrible practice round. So, I didn’t really expect that. But at the end of the day, you know, you just kind of find what you have and score from there. So that’s what I’ve been doing.”
Joohyung Kim, winner of last week’s The Singapore International, was again in impressive form making five birdies and two bogeys.
He has a healthy lead at the top of the Merit list with his nearest challengers Thailand’s Phachara Khongwatmai and Trevor Simsby from America, off the pace, while Chan Shih-chang from Chinese-Taipei will miss the cut.
Said Kim: “It’s not over till it’s over. I can’t relax over the weekend, but just got to keep grinding, trying to finish the best I can this week.”
“I feel like this weekend, it means so much to everyone and it’s a big week for everyone so you know, keep my head down and keep grinding,” he added.
Sadom won five times in Thailand last year, including his National Open, and is once again in contention.
“I have worked really hard on my game over the last two years since COVID,” said Sadom. “Now that I have made the cut, I am aiming for a top five finish.”
Thailand’s Ratchanon Chantananuwat, the 14-year-old golfing phenom, carded a 73 and is level par in a tie for 31st.
His playing partner England’s Paul Casey recovered from his opening round 76 by carding a 68 to finish on two over, which will most likely be good enough to make the cut, currently three over.
An eagle and a birdie in his closing six holes saw the Ryder Cup star, joint second here in 2019, narrowly make it through to the weekend.