Brazilian leaps ahead at Asian Tour Q-School
LEADING FIRST-ROUND SCORES
62 - Lucas LEE (BRA)
65 - Hirohito KOIZUMI (JPN), Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA)
66 - Jonathan MOORE (USA)
67 - SONG Tae-hoon (KOR), Peter GUSTAFSSON (SWE), Simon GRIFFITHS (ENG), Berry HENSON (USA), Adam GROOM (AUS), Hirotaro NAITO (JPN)
68 - Daisuke KATAOKA (JPN), Masaki SAKATA (JPN), Thitiphan CHUAYPRAKONG (THA), Chris GILL (ENG), Pierre-Henri SOERO (FRA), Corey HARRIS (USA), Ryoma YAMAGATA (JPN), Ross BAIN (SCO), Masanori KOBAYASHI (JPN), Kieran PRATT (AUS), Akinori TANI (JPN)
HUA HIN, Thailand – Lucas Lee of Brazil shot a career-best 10-under 62 to take the opening round lead Wednesday at the Asian Tour Qualifying School Final Stage.
Lee, who lost his Asian Tour card last season after finishing 97th on the money list, has a three-stroke lead over Panuphol Pittayarat of Thailand and Hirohito Koizumi of Japan.
American Jonathan Moore (66) is fourth while Korean Song Tae-hoon, Peter Gustafsson of Sweden, Englishman Simon Griffiths, Berry Henson of the United States, Australian Adam Groom and Japanese Hirotaro Naito are tied for fifth after carding 67s.
The Q-School final stage is played over two courses – the Jack Nicklaus-designed Springfield Royal Country Club and Imperial Lakeview Golf Club. Players compete on alternate courses for the first two rounds; the final two rounds will be played at Springfield Royal.
A total of 175 players from more than 30 countries are vying to finish among the top 40 and ties to earn playing rights on the 2011 Asian Tour.
Lee, 24, a former third-team All-American at UCLA, shot 31 on each nine with eight birdies and an eagle on par-5 12th after his 6-iron approach landed 10 feet from the pin.
“Playing in qualifying school is more grinding and it feels a little bit more tense compared to regular tournaments,” Lee said. “But I was hitting a lot of fairways and greens and the putts were dropping and that was the key for me,” said Lee, who is a cousin to LPGA player Angela Park.
Last year, he jumped to a strong start in his rookie season, tying for ninth at the Asian Tour International in Thailand, but he struggled with fatigue as he juggled playing overseas.
“I played 10 weeks in a row last year, rotating between Asia and Canada and it was really tiring,” Lee said. “If I earn my Asian Tour card this season, I’m going to concentrate playing more in Asia.”
Moore, who earned the winning point at the 2007 U.S. Walker Cup, bogeyed the first hole but bounced back with a three birdies before adding more birdies on Nos. 8, 16 and 18.
It is his second attempt at the Asian Tour Qualifying School after missing out on the final stage last year by one stroke.