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Katayama makes hot start at Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open

Kyodo

Shingo Katayama got off to a strong start in pursuit of his 27th victory on the JGTO tour by shooting an 8-under-par 63 on Thursday at the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open.

It is the second straight week that the 40-year-old has held a first-round lead, firing in eight birdies in a bogey-free round to pull two strokes ahead of Thailand’s Pariya Junhasavasdikul and six clear of three more golfers tied for third at Ibaraki Country Club.

“The wind was unbelievably difficult today,” Katayama said. “I like tough courses like this, so yesterday as I went over the course I thought, ‘This could be pretty hard.’ So it’s great to go out and have a good first day.”

Katayama, whose last tour victory was in November 2008, tied for second last week at the ANA Open and tied for fourth the week before at the Fujisankei Classic.

The 29-year-old Pariya has only competed in Japan at this event, which is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour. He finished in a tie for 20th in 2011 and missed the cut last year. The third time appears to be the charm as he sank an eagle and five birdies against one bogey for a 6-under-par 65.

“I didn’t expect to shoot six-under because the wind was blowing quite strongly even at six in the morning. But when you make birdie, eagle and birdie in the first three holes, it makes things much easier,” Pariya said.

Masahiro Kawamura, Indonesia’s Rory Hie and South Korea’s Song Young-han were four strokes further back of Pariya at 2 under. Last weekend’s winner, Komei Oda, was tied for sixth at 1 under.