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.