Playing together in the same group, South Korean amateur Dongmin Kim and America’s Alex Kang put on a sensational display of scoring in hot conditions at Laguna Golf Phuket, firing 15 shots below par between them. Kim carded a 6-under 64 to take a one-shot lead over Kang, who was eyeing a score in the 50s before signing for a 61 after the second round of PGA TOUR Series-China’s final Global Qualifying Tournament.
Canada’s Stuart Macdonald was also in great form, shooting a 65 to share second with Kang, who still holds the PGA TOUR Series-China’s all-time 72-hole scoring record and is the older brother of LPGA major champion Danielle Kang.
Kim and Kang started on hole 11 and were the group to watch from the opening hole. The duo racked up 13 birdies, two eagles and just two bogeys. They will play together for a third consecutive day when the final group tees off Thursday at 12:35 p.m.
With the help of his dad on the bag, Kim opened birdie-bogey on his first two holes before an eagle on the par-5 14th (his fourth hole of the day) accelerated his round. He picked up three more birdies, on holes 18, 6 and 7.
“The golf course felt a bit narrow, but I hit my driver really well and that was the key for me to make a lot of birdies,” said Kim. “It gets very hot here, and it’s easy to lose focus so I think having my dad helped a lot today. He’s great to have on the bag, and hopefully we can stay fit and keep playing well together.”
Kang finished third on the Tour’s Order of Merit in 2016 to earn status for the Web.com Tour, where he played from 2017-2018. He is hoping to lock up status this week and return to China for another opportunity to progress to the Web.com Tour, where he enjoyed 43 starts in 2017 and 2018.
Two weeks ago, Kang tied for 35th at the PGA TOUR’s Puerto Rico Open and found his rhythm again today in a round that included eight birdies, one eagle, and just one bogey to bounce back from an opening-round 71.
“I had my putter going, and I hit my irons well. It sounds weird, but I could have gone lower. I had a three-putt, and I didn’t take advantage of the shorter par-5s. But it was a good round, 61 is always good,” said Kang, who was full of praise for Kim.
“He was making putts. I saw him make some putts. I think he saw me make some putts so it’s always good when someone is lighting it up in the group because you feel like you can do it too.”
Japan’s Narutoshi Yamaoka carded a 67 to take solo fourth at 6-under, one ahead of Americans Eric Beringer (69) and Jared Howard (70), who was co-leading with Australia’s Aaron Wilkin (73) after the first round. Two more Americans, Nick Latimer (67) and Henry Westmoreland IV (67), are tied for seventh, at 4-under.
Only the medalist this week will earn full status for the 14-event Tour season, while finishers 2-12 will earn status through the first six events. Finishers 13-35 (and ties) will be conditionally exempt through the first six events.
Did you know that Alex Kang tied for 10th at the PGA TOUR’s Shriners Hospital for Children Open in 2018. In total, Kang has played in five PGA TOUR events and has made the cut in three.
• There is no cut this week.
• The high temperature Wednesday was 92.
• Alex Kang still holds a couple of PGA TOUR Series-China scoring records. At the 2016 Cadillac Championship at Poly Golf Club Chengdu, Kang finished at 29-under 259, the best 72-hole score in Tour history. His middle rounds of 61-62 is the record for the best 36 holes, and he’s one of three players to shoot 61 in an official round. Gunn Charoenkul and Pariya Junhasavasdikul, both in 2014, are the others.
• There are five Americans currently in the top eight.
• There were 118 players in the field today from 18 nationalities.
• The course is a par-70 totalling 6,580 yards.
• In 2018, Alex Kang made the cut in eight of 22 Web.com Tour events, his best finish a tie for sixth at the Mexico Championship one year ago this week.
• Dongmin Kim was born and resides in Daegu, South Korea.
• South Korea’s Dongmin Kim is currently on track to earn a full Tour card. In the first two Global Qualifying Tournaments, no amateur earned guaranteed starts.
• The next-closest amateur to leader Dongmin Kim are American Bradley Knight and Australian James Grierson. They are both tied for 48th, at 4-over.
• Stuart Macdonald is playing in Asia for the first time in his career. The former Purdue University golfer is tied for second through 36 holes. Macdonald plays out of Point Grey Golf and Country Club in Vancouver, British Columbia, site of the Mackenzie Tour’s season-opening event each year.
• Stuart Macdonald was a 2018 Web.com Tour member, with 20 starts. He only made four cuts in his rookie season, his best finish a tie for 39th at the Mexico Championship.
• A year ago, Eric Beringer, a University of Colorado product, was the second-round leader at the Mackenzie Tour Qualifying Tournament outside Phoenix after opening 69-69. He eventually tied for 16th but didn’t play in any 2018 Mackenzie Tour tournaments. Now Beringer is tied for fifth after opening rounds of 66-69.
• Miguel Angel Jimenez, Jr., son of current PGA TOUR Champions and European Tour player Miguel Angel Jimenez is in the field this week. He is tied for 48th after opening rounds of 72-72.
• Bhurinat Songpaiboon is the leading Thailand player in the field. He is tied for ninth after rounds of 70-67. Songpaiboon played four years at Washington State University.
“Yesterday I was 4-under through six, and I ended up finishing at 1-over. I honestly got really dehydrated. I was shaky over the ball, so today my game plan today was to drink a lot of water and keep myself hydrated.” – Alex Kang
“Hopefully I can get myself in contention to win. That’s what I want to do.” – Alex Kang
“I hit it really well today, I hit a lot of greens and a lot of fairways. You can get in trouble on this course, but I kept it in play and hit it really well. I made a lot of 10-footers, which helped too.” – Stuart Macdonald
“It’s hot. I’m definitely dehydrated. It’s hard to drink enough water, but I feel like I’m pretty used to playing in the heat. I played a lot of hot rounds on the Web(.com Tour) in the summertime last year so it’s not too bad. It’s bearable.” – Stuart Macdonald on the weather
“I think my ball-striking is the best part of my game right now. I think I only missed two greens today and maybe just one or two fairways. So, ball-striking has been keeping me in and also (I’m) putting solid.” – Stuart Macdonald
“I’m going to keep on doing what I’m doing; hit lots of greens and lots of fairways and stay patient. You can get in some trouble here when you’re not careful.” – Stuart Macdonald
“Hopefully I can catch Kim. That’s the plan, but it’s one shot at a time. Hopefully it all works out.” – Stuart Macdonald
“I’m pretty happy with how today went. Overall it was good.” – Bhurinat Songpaiboon
“My best shot of the day was my second shot on hole 13. I had about 111 (yards) to the flag, and I put it to a foot and then made birdie so that was a good shot there.” – Bhurinat Songpaiboon
“I’ve played here a couple times. I like the course; the conditions are great always.” – Bhurinat Songpaiboon on the course
“I’m just going to keep doing the same things on [Thursday] as I’ve been doing. Just focus on my game.” – Bhurinat Songpaiboon
“My goal is to get on the Web.com Tour, so I wanted to come and try to play in China and see how it goes.” – Bhurinat Songpaiboon