Sihwan Kim fired a fine five-under-par 66 in the second round of the Singapore Open to take the clubhouse lead on nine-under at Sentosa Golf Club.
The American opened up a three-shot lead over South 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.
Fellow South Korean Dongkyu Jang and Sadom Kaewkanjana from Thailand are a stroke further back following rounds of 69 and 70 respectively.
Dubai-based Shiv Kapur of India shot a second-round 69 for a 36 hole total of 140, to lie tied 16th.
At the conclusion of his round Kapur told Gulf News: “The golf course was playing tricky today with the swirling winds and storms in the area. Any time you shoot in the 60s around Serapong you have to be pleased.
“I am in a decent position to make a run at the weekend to try and grab one of the four Open Championship spots available to play at St Andrews. Regarding the golf course it is immaculate and, in my opinion, the best putting surfaces in Asia.”
Fellow Dubai resident Jeev Milkha Singh will miss the cut. The $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.
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.
“Feels good, I putted really well today and hopefully the rest of my game follows,” said Sihwan, 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, 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 Asian Tour Order of 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.
Sadom won five times in Thailand last year, including his National Open, and is once again in contention.
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.