Thursday, September 24, 2009

KYOTO, Japan (AP) — Singapore's Lam Chih Bing fired a 5-under 66 Thursday to share the first-round lead with Japan's Tatsuya Haraguchi at the Asia Pacific Panasonic Open.

Lam carded six birdies against a lone bogey at the Joyo Country Club. Haraguchi had five birdies in a bogey-free round at the 6,352-yard, par-71 course.

Four golfers, including Japan's Tomohiro Kondo, were a further stroke back at 4 under.

Lam was injured in a freakish accident which could have blinded him in one eye after Mardan Mamat accidentally hit him in the face with a driver on Monday.

``I'm just very happy that I got to tee off today and it's an even bigger bonus that I played good,'' Lam said.

Lam was struck near his right eye as Mardan took a practice swing, not realizing another player was so close. Doctors elected not to suture the cut because it was too close to Lam's eye.

``I was standing on the first tee box waiting to tee off and the next thing I was lying on the ground (wondering) if it's the end of my golf career,'' the 32-year-old Lam told the Asian Tour news. ``Thank God when I removed my hands from my right eye, I ... could still see.

``The thoughts that ran through my mind for 15 seconds were pretty scary. Mardan and the other guys were also afraid for me. I went to hospital and the doctor patched me up. I don't have any problem with the vision although it's a bit sore now.''

Much of the local attention was on Japanese teenager Ryo Ishikawa, who struggled and was tied for 54th after a 2-over 73.

Ishikawa, who started from the 10th hole, had bogeys on Nos. 12 and 15. He birdied the par-5 first after the turn and then had back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 4 and 5 before a birdie on the par-4 sixth.

American Anthony Kang was tied for 44th at 1 over, while Chinese star Liang Wen-chong had a 68 to sit two strokes off the lead along with Asian Tour regulars Terry Pilkadaris and Rick Kulacz of Australia.

The $1.5 million tournament is jointly sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the Japan Golf Tour.

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