July 22, 2018, 11:49 pm
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Kim surges ahead with eagle-spiked 66

ANTIPOLO. — Kim Joo Hyung banked on another fiery start and a solid iron game that helped produce an eagle-2 on Thursday en route to a five-under 66 and a four-stroke lead halfway through Philippine Golf Tour Asia’s ICTSI Forest Hills Championship at the Nicklaus course here.

Kim, who charged into early contention on a late 65 last Wednesday, drilled in four birdies and banged in an eagle off a superb 9-iron shot from 145 yards on the par-4 No. 9 to highlight another scorching round that pushed the rising 16-year-old star on top at 11-under 131 and on course for a second straight victory after a record win in the ICTSI Pueble De Oro stop of the PGT last week.

“My game in the first two days has been stress-free, not making much of mistakes,” said Kim, who has dominated the national amateur scene the past two years before joining the pro ranks with a strong joint second finish in the PGT Asia Q-School at Luisita last April. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to do this in the next couple of days.”

He could have pulled away but flubbed a couple of birdie chances on the first two par-5s and fumbled with an unlikely bogey on the last par-5 at No. 16, which he birdied in the first round.

Still, his nines of 32-34 gave the young Korean a big cushion heading into the last 36 holes of the $100,000 event sponsored by ICTSI as overnight leader Josh Salah lost his momentum after a superb bogey-free 63 start and bogeyed the last two holes for a 73.

A host of erstwhile contenders failed to match Kim’s blistering pace and fell farther back and two local top guns stumbled and fumbled to make it to through the halfway cut.

South African Mathiam Keyser recovered from a double-bogey mishap on No. 6 with a cluster of birdies – six in an eight-hole stretch from No. 9 – and turned in a 67 as he joined amateur Judson Eustaquio at second at 135, four strokes off Kim.

Eustaquio, using his local knowledge of the layout where he is the golf director, sank three birdies to complete a bogey-free 68, while Salah tumbled to joint fourth at 136 with Elmer Salvador, who shot a second 68.

Thai Itthipat Buranatanyarat, in joint second with Kim and local bet Albin Engino after 18 holes, also fumbled with a 72 and dropped to joint sixth at 139 with Jobim Carlos, Reymon Jaraula, Thai Natchanon Varapornkittirat and American John Michael O’Toole while Jhonnel Ababa stood a shot farther back at 140 after a 68.
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