CJ Cup: Home favourite Byeong Hun An leads after 64
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 17/10/19 11:34am
Byeong Hun An delighted his home fans as he fired an opening 64 to claim the first-round lead at the CJ Cup in South Korea.
An carded eight birdies in his blemish-free round to earn a one-shot lead over rising star Joakim Niemann, while world No 1 Brooks Koepka birdied the 16th and eagled the last to salvage a respectable 69.
Four birdies over the first seven holes got An off the start he wanted and, after turning in 32, the home favourite reeled off three consecutive birdies from the 11th and added another at 16 to get to eight under.
The former BMW PGA champion was unable to take advantage of the par-five last, but he had done enough to be installed as clubhouse leader and An was understandably delighted - and a little surprised - with his excellent start at Jeju Island.
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"It was great, eight under and bogey free is always good," he said. "I hit it really solid, and I wasn't expecting it, to be fair. I didn't hit it great the last couple days and on the range today, but everything seems to be working.
"Everything was going at the flag the perfect distance and obviously I holed a lot of putts today, so everything just clicked and I shot bogey free.
"I can feel a lot of support from people here. And playing well in front of them definitely is a bonus. Hopefully, I can keep this going."
Niemann was just two under at the turn, but the exciting young Chilean began the back nine with three birdies in four holes and made two more at 17 and 18 to complete a 65, also without a bogey.
Day has slipped to 27th in the world rankings and is now the third-best Australian behind Adam Scott and Marc Leishman having not played since the BMW Championship in August, but he gave himself a lift with a 66 which included four straight birdies around the turn.
His compatriot Cameron Smith is among a group of five players on five under, while 2017 champion Justin Thomas carded six birdies but blotted his card with bogeys at the 18th and second holes to slip four behind the leader.
Graeme McDowell ended both nines with a pair of birdies as he also kept the mistakes at bay in a solid 68, and Ian Poulter was going nicely at four under with two to play before a bogey at the short 17th saw him slip into a tie for 15th with Tyrrell Hatton, Viktor Hovland and Koepka.
The world No 1, who missed the cut in Las Vegas two weeks ago, was erratic over the second half of his round until finishing with a flourish, while Tommy Fleetwood also struggled for consistency and mixed three birdies with two bogeys in his 71.