Yip Steals the Show

Thu 04 Oct 2012

Yip Steals the Show

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Yeoju, Gyeonggi-do, Korea, October 4: Canada’s Ryan Yip emerged from the shadows of his more illustrious competitors by firing a flawless seven-under-par 64 to take the first round lead at the CJ Invitational Hosted by KJ Choi on Thursday.
Australia’s Rick Kulacz showed that he can still play his best golf when he carded a 65 in the morning session to take a share of second place alongside 14-time Asian Tour winner Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand at the Haesley Nine Bridges Golf Club.
Korea’s Lee Dong-hwan signed for a 66 to take fourth place while seven-time Asian Tour winner Charlie Wi posted a 67 to take a share of fifth place with six other players that include compatriot Lee Sung, Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat and Australia’s Adam Blyth at the US$750,000 event which is jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Korean Golf Tour.
The star of the day belonged to Yip who was a relative unknown until his opening round heroics made many take notice of his talent.
“It’s all about giving yourself as many chances as you can and luckily for me, I made a couple of putts and played really solid today,” said Yip.
Playing on a sponsor’s invite, the 28-year-old was at the top of his game, marking his card with a total of seven birdies.
Although Yip piles his trade on the Web.Com Tour in the United States, he envisions a great future for golf in Asia, especially with the staging of events like this week’s CJ Invitational.
“I had a good amateur record, turned professional about five years ago and played on the Canadian Tour for a while. I’ve been playing on the Web.Com Tour this year. I love events like this. It’s just like Tiger in the States. This event grows the game and it’s great for Asian golf,” said Yip.
Thaworn showed why he is one of the best players on the Asian Tour when he returned with a flawless 65 despite being distracted by the huge crowd following the marquee group of host K.J Choi and American Ben Curtis who were playing ahead of him.
The Thai, who holds the record of having the most number of wins on the Asian Tour, felt that his score could have been better if he had held his nerves with the passionate crowd ahead.
“The putts were all dropping and I couldn’t have played my short game any better. I was just affected by the crowd ahead as they were running everywhere eager to watch K.J in action,” said Thaworn.
Meanwhile Kulacz was relieved that he has started his campaign well as he was struggling a lot with his irons.
“I’ll definitely take that score because my shots to the green weren’t too good and I got six of my birdies from pretty close range. When I hit a good shot, it was good and but when it was bad, it was really bad,” said Kulacz, who marked his card with seven birdies against a lone bogey on the par-three fifth.
Since winning his second Asian Tour title in 2009, the Australian has been enduring an indifferent form.
Kulacz’s best result this season was a tied-23rd finish in Thailand and while it has been three years since he last won, Kulacz believes the key to playing well again is simply to be free-spirited and enjoy playing the game.
“I think I’ve got to try to just play the game instead of getting too caught up with technique. You just have to go out there, hit the ball and try to score as low as you can. Fortunately I did that today and obviously I’ve got to keep working at it as it’s always work in progress all the time,” said the 27-year-old.
There was nothing to separate both Choi and Curtis after they returned with matching 69s.
Curtis, winner of the 2003 British Open, mixed his card with three birdies against one bogey and is pleased that his first trip to Korea is turning out to be a very enjoyable one.
“K.J. is an icon over here in Korea and to be playing alongside with him is a great honour. The fans are obviously going to root for him but it’s alright with me as he’s the host and that the way it should be,” said Curtis.
“It’s always fun to play with K.J. and whether they are good or bad days, we always have fun and a good time. It’s fun to play with someone of his stature,” added the American, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour.
Choi returned the compliment and is encouraged by the healthy attendance at the Haesley Nine Bridges Golf Club this week.
“Curtis’s a good player as well. I’m thankful for all the support that my tournament has been receiving so far. I’m pleased as this will go a long way towards raising the profile of the tournament,” said the Asian Tour honorary member.
CJ Group, Korea’s food-to-entertainment conglomerate, has a three-year agreement to title sponsor the tournament which will be beamed live on the Asian Tour’s global television platform which reaches over 200 countries and 650 million homes. It will also be broadcast on KBS and J-Golf channel.
Leading scores after round 1 of the CJ Invitational Hosted by K.J. CHOI being played at the par 71, 7152 Yards Haesley Nine Bridges Golf Club course (a- denotes amateur):
64 - Ryan YIP (CAN).
65 - Rick KULACZ (AUS), Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA).
66 - LEE Dong-hwan (KOR).
67 - PARK Hyun-bin (KOR), Charlie WI (KOR), KANG Kyung-nam (KOR), Chapchai NIRAT (THA), Adam BLYTH (AUS), MAENG Dong-seop (KOR), LEE Sung (KOR).
68 - JANG Dong-kyu (KOR), Prom MEESAWAT (THA), CHOI Joon-woo (KOR), Chinnarat PHADUNGSIL (THA), Angelo QUE (PHI), LEE Tae-kyu (KOR).
69 - PARK Ju-hyuk (KOR), David OH (USA), CHOI Jin-ho (KOR), KIM Seung-hyuk (KOR), K.J. CHOI (KOR), Ben CURTIS (USA), LEE Min-chang (KOR), BAE Sang-moon (KOR), Scott HEND (AUS), KIM Meen-whee (KOR), Niall TURNER (IRL), Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA), LEE Kyoung-hoon (KOR), Sam CYR (USA), HWANG Jae-min (471) (KOR), Mars PUCAY (PHI).
70 - Arnond VONGVANIJ (THA), CHUNG Joon (KOR), Javi COLOMO (ESP), CHOI Hyuk-jae (KOR), PARK Hyo-won (KOR), Darren BECK (AUS), KANG Wook-soon (KOR), Martin ROMINGER (SUI).
71 - Scott BARR (AUS), Young NAM (KOR), YANG Ji-woong (am, KOR), PARK Jun-won (KOR), Adilson DA SILVA (BRA), Guido VAN DER VALK (NED), BANG Doo-hwan (KOR), Kwanchai TANNIN (THA), LEE In-woo (KOR), PARK Do-kyu (KOR), KIM Gi-whan (KOR), KIM Dae-sub (KOR), KIM Dae-hyun (KOR), Marcus BOTH (AUS), HONG Sung-min (KOR).
Selected scores
72 - Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND)
73 - KOH Deng Shan (SIN)
Ends.
About the KJ Choi Foundation
K.J. Choi, one of the most successful golfers to come from Korea, did not want to stop with his own personal success, but felt a strong social responsibility to give back to society and realized he needed a reliable means of doing so. Joining together with other community leaders in Korea who share the common idea, he established the K.J. Choi Foundation in 2007 for this purpose. K.J. Choi Foundation conducts major charitable projects for those who are faced in hopeless situations in Korean domestic and International communities. The Foundation especially focuses in the support of underprivileged children by lovingly providing welfare services and professional help, thus providing young people with hopes and dreams. K.J. Choi also works closely with many community leaders to help support junior golfers in difficult financial and environmental situations fulfil their dreams through his junior golf program, K.J. Choi Dream Team. K.J. Choi Foundation’s vision is to be a community leader that provides hope and happiness for all, and its purpose is to be a Foundation for everyone.
About the Asian Tour
As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia.  This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include Rolex (Official Timekeeper), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and Resorts), Abacus (Official Apparel Partner), Cityneon (Official Event Overlay Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Singha Beer (Official Beer), BlackBerry (Official Communications Partner) and Srixon (Official Ball). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.