Valimaki, Simonsen Share 1st Round Lead At Thailand Classic

CHONBURI, Thailand (AP) — Sami Valimaki of Finland carded a bogey-free 8-under 64 Thursday to share the lead with Martin Simonsen of Denmark after the opening round of the Thailand Classic.

Coming off a second-place finish in the Singapore Classic, where he finished one stroke behind Ockie Strydom of South Africa on Sunday, the 24-year-old Valimaki made five birdies on the front nine — including on his opening three holes — before picking up three more after the turn.

“I started nicely and kept it going the whole day,” said Valimaki, whose only European tour win came at the Oman Open in 2020. “When I start hitting the ball really well, it just makes it easy.”

The Thailand Classic returned to the European tour for the first time since 2016, when it was held in Hua Hin.

Simosen highlighted his round at the Amata Spring Country Club with an eagle on the 11th hole, to go with seven birdies and a lone bogey on the 13th.

Sitting a stroke back was the German pair of Yannik Paul, the Mallorca Golf Open winner last October, and Alexander Knappe.

Four-time tour winner Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain had an error-free round of a 66 to sit two shots off the lead along with Robin Sciot-Siegrist of France, Thirston Lawrence of South Africa, and Fabriozio Zanotti of Paraguay.