Lumbres, France – Sihwan Kim, playing his first season in Europe, posted a two-under 69 on Friday to take sole possession of the lead after two rounds of the Saint Omer Open.
Kim, a first-round co-leader, finished 36 holes at 6-under 136 and is one stroke clear of Darren Fichardt, who also shot a 69 on Friday at Aa Saint Omer Golf Club.
This event is co-sponsored by the European Tour and the European Challenge Tour. Most of the game's best are at Olympic Club for the U.S. Open and that's where Kim believes he should be.
Kim was involved in a five-man playoff for four spots a few weeks back at a U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Walton Heath. He was the odd man out, and instead came here in search of his first victory.
"I've been having horrendous luck for the last two weeks and I was really gutted to miss out in that playoff at Walton Heath," admitted Kim. "So I'm happy that I'm getting a bit luckier this week, and if I could do well here it would make up for it a bit. It would be nice to get some payback for that one."
Kim's fellow first-round co-leaders, Adam Gee and Simon Wakefield, both carded rounds of one-over 72 on Friday and share third place at minus-3.
In windy, difficult conditions on Friday, Kim began on the 10th tee and parred his first eight holes. He broke into red figures with a birdie at the par-4 18th to make the turn at 5-under for the championship.
Kim had his only dropped shot of the round with a bogey at No. 2, but after five consecutive pars, he was still near the top of the leaderboard.
Kim vaulted into the lead thanks to back-to-back birdies at 8 and 9.
"My score could have been a lot better, but I'll just take what the course gives me," said Kim. "I didn't feel that it was playing that hard, but the wind picked up over the last few holes and will definitely make the conditions tougher in the afternoon."
Fichardt mixed four birdies and a single bogey on his round through the first 15 holes. He was tied for the lead with Kim, but a 3-putt bogey at the par-5 seventh, his 16th on Friday, knocked him into second.
"I had a stupid 3-putt at the seventh which was annoying as I'd started well," said the 37-year-old. "But overall I'm pleased as it was very tricky out there. The wind was gusting and making club selection very difficult. I didn't hit it close to many pins."
Simon Thornton and Wil Besseling both shot rounds of 2-under 69 in the second round and share fifth at 2-under 140.
Alastair Forsyth (72), Andy Sullivan (71), Andrea Perrino (68), Justin Walters (68), Daniel Denison (70) and James Heath (70) are knotted in seventh at minus-1.
NOTES: Defending champion Matthew Zions shot a 1-over 72 and is tied for 36th at plus-3...The 36-hole cut fell at 5-over par with 81 players making the weekend...Andrew McArthur and Jamie McLeary both withdrew on Friday.