Basic back in the swing of things

BANGKOK // Just four days after fearing his next Asian Tour appearance would be in qualifying school, Australia's Neven Basic fired a six-under 66 to take a two-stroke lead in the season-ending Volvo Masters. The tournament is reserved for the top 65 players on the Asian Tour Order of Merit. Basic missed the cut at last week's Cambodian Open while sitting at 65th on the prize-money list and a Bangkok appearance was in severe jeopardy while a trip to Q-school loomed in order to get a 2009 card. However his rivals failed to overhaul him, and he finished the first round yesterday two shots clear of compatriot Adam Blyth and Taiwan's Lin Wentang, who both had 68s.

"It was a bit stressful in Cambodia and it is good to be able to go out and just play golf here," Basic said. Basic fired six birdies in a flawless round at the Thai Country Club as he pursues his first Asian Tour title. "I just need to relax and play. You can't force it to happen as it will normally end in disaster," he added. It was a disappointing day for the pre-tournament favourites. The money list leader Jeev Milkha Singh of India had a 76, the defending champion Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand had 74 in front of his home fans, while compatriot Thongchai Jaidee could not find the form that gave him victories in the Vietnam Masters and Cambodian Open before this event, finishing with a 73.

* Associated Press