Chapchai heaps the pressure on Liang
Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat kept up the pressure on leader Liang Wen-chong in the thrilling UBS Order of Merit race with a fighting second round three-under-par 69 in the Volvo Masters of Asia on Friday.
Chapchai drew three strokes clear of the Chinese number one who produced some uncharacteristically scrappy play en route to a one-under-par 71 at Thai Country Club.
The big-hitting Thai, a two-time winner this season, needs a triumph this week and Liang to finish out of the top three to lift the UBS Order of Merit title.
He is US$95,005 behind Liang who has enjoyed a banner year with one victory and eight other top-10 finishes. Chapchai had three bogeys and two birdies on the front nine to reach the turn in one over but he stormed home in 32 thanks to four birdies, including three-in-a-row from the 14th.
“I am very happy but still tired. I putted better today than yesterday but did not drive the ball or hit my irons as well,” said the burly 24 year old, who is on four-under-par 140 and five strokes adrift of co-leaders Scott Hend of Australia and Filipino Juvic Pagunsan.
“It was not very consistent – birdie, bogey, birdie, bogey (he had six birdies and three bogeys).”
Chapchai reckons that a 15-under-par total will be good enough to win the season-ending Volvo Masters of Asia and has promised to thrill the galleries over the weekend with his shoot-at-the-pins style.
“My target this week is to get to 15-under-par – I think that will be good enough to win. My style is to be very aggressive and go all out for birdies. I will continue that approach tomorrow and on Sunday,” said Chapchai, who is birdie leader on the Asian Tour with 292 'birds' in 81 rounds before this week.
“I am still not thinking about the Order of Merit. My goal this year was to finish in the top 10 and I have achieved that.”
Liang admitted that his game had been affected by the lurking presence of Chapchai during the first round but he was more settled on Friday.
“I was a bit worried playing with Chapchai (Nirat) yesterday. I kept thinking that he would play well. I was thinking too much. I tried to block that out today which I did. I was hoping to shoot a better score to keep my chances alive in the tournament,” said the 29-year-old from Zhongshan.
“Anything can still happen (in the Merit race) - I’ll keep trying. I need to practice my short game to make it better. I putted a bit better but still missed one two-foot putt.”
Liang, who has led the race for the prestigious Order of Merit crown since May, reached the turn in three under but stumbled to a 38 coming home with bogeys on the 13th and 18th holes.
“The front nine was good but the back nine was not good again for the second straight day. Shot the same score as yesterday (two over). I hit some bad shots and had some problems,” he said.
December 7, 2007