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Defending champion Lee takes sole 36-hole lead

cheonan_korea_090916_news_thumb_lee_kyounghoon_001Cheonan, Korea, September 9: Lee Kyounghoon kept on course for a second straight Kolon Korea Open title by grabbing the halfway lead thanks to an accomplished four-under-par 67 on Friday.

The 25-year-old Korean finished with a two-round total of 10-under 132 and opened up a one-shot advantage over the hard-charging Lee Changwoo, who shot a superb, bogey-free 63, Hwang Junggon and Kim Yeongsu, in with matching 68s.

Choi Jinho, who started the day in a tie for first place with five other players including Lee, Hwang and Kim, carded a 69 to trail by two shots and was joined in joint fifth place by Kang Kyungnam (66).

Lee Kyounghoon has carried his good recent form from the Tour into the OneAsia tournament and broke clear of the field with four birdies in his last six holes at Woo Jeong Hills Country Club.

He started his round with a birdie before reeling off eight pars. A bogey took him back to even for his round but then the putts started to drop and the two-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour finished with a flourish.

Lee Changwoo, who tied third at the GS Caltex Maekyung Open on OneAsia in May, lit up the morning session with his eight-birdie pyrotechnics. He reached the turn in 31 after picking up shots at the first, third, fifth, sixth and eighth holes before three birdies in a row from the 11th followed by five straight pars saw him sign for a 63.

Apart from his performance at the Maekyung Open, Lee Changwoo has shown few signs this season that he could shot a low number having missed four cuts in the five tournaments he has played on the Japan Golf Tour.

The bespectacled Hwang, a three-time champion on the Japan Golf Tour, looked poised to take a slim lead but a bogey, bogey, birdie finish saw him end the round a shot behind Lee Kyounghoon.

Kim’s chances of topping the leaderboard at the halfway stage were also derailed down the stretch as he carded three bogeys against two birdies in the closing five holes.

Choi, who won the SK Telecom Open last year en route to second place on the OneAsia Order of Merit with winnings of US$217,477, stayed in the hunt with two birdies on his back nine after an up and down start when he mixed two birdies with two bogeys while the experienced Kang moved up the leaderboard with a 66.

Australia’s Jordan Zunic was handily placed at three under for his round standing on the 18th tee but the 2015 BMW New Zealand Open winner ran up a double bogey seven to finish with a 70.

Zunic, Thailand’s Rattanon Wannasrichan (70) and American Ryan Dillon (68) lead the overseas challenge on five-under 137, five shots off the pace.

This year sees the 59th staging of the Kolon Korea Open and the highly prized title has been one in the past by Americans Rickie Fowler (2011) and John Daly (2003), Vijay Singh from Fiji (2007), Spain’s Sergio Garcia (2002) and Korean great K.J. Choi (1996 and 1999).