Chinnarat in charge as Chia goes low
Thailand’s Chinnarat Phadungsil charged into a three-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Queen’s Cup after a superb six-under-par 65 on Friday.
Chinnarat, 20, produced a near flawless display with seven birdies against a lone bogey at the Santiburi Samui Country Club to lead the US$300,000 Asian Tour event on 11-under-par 131.
Malaysia’s Danny Chia led the chasing pack, firing a stunning 63 which included two eagles and six birdies to lie on 134 alongside Japanese journeyman Yoshinobu Tsukada who carded a 66. Last week’s winner Rick Kulacz of Australia is a further stroke back after storming home in 29 for a 67 and is tied fourth with Chinese Taipei’s Sung Mao-chang (69) and Korea’s Kim Dae-hyun (67).
Joint overnight leader Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand struggled on the greens as he limped home in 71 which left him five back on 136 with compatriot Thammanoon Srirot, Filipino Mars Pucay, Jbe Kruger of South Africa and joint overnight leader Lee Sung of Korea.
“I felt good today,” said Chinnarat, whose birdies were all from inside eight feet. “I hit my driver and irons well but my putting wasn’t so good on the back nine. I missed two chances from three feet but it’s okay. I feel confident of winning this tournament.”
Despite his youth, Chinnarat is already a two-time Asian Tour winner where he became the youngest champion ever at 17 years and five days at the Double A International Open on home soil in 2005. However, this season has been a struggle, partly because he has attempted to establish himself in Europe as well.
“I’ve been learning to cope in Europe as the weather, grass and conditions are so different. Although I’ve not made many cuts, it’s been a good experience. I need to keep my card on the Asian Tour too, so a win this week will be helpful. I finished third here last year, so maybe I can do it,” said Chinnarat, who is 103rd on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit and 211th in Europe.
Chia, Malaysia’s first winner on the Asian Tour when he bagged the 2002 Taiwan Open, came alive with the day’s best after pulling off some brave shots over the Santiburi course nicknamed the Beast of Samui.
“I messed up one hole for double bogey (12th) but apart from that, it was okay. I was striking the ball well and hit them close all day,” said Chia.
Starting from the 10th, Chia eagled the 18th, converting a 20-footer and then enjoyed a lucky break at the demanding eighth hole when his drive ended five feet from the hazard before going on to strike a superb three wood from 255 yards out which ended 12 feet from the pin for his second eagle.
“I took a bit of a risk there and it turned out to be a good shot. Hopefully I will enjoy some more breaks on the greens this weekend,” said Chia.
Tsukada, playing on a sponsor’s invite, has plied his trade in Japan and the Asian Tour without much success over the years but is hoping to strike it hot this weekend. He hammered a massive drive down the 18th hole which left him with only a nine iron into the green for an easy eagle from five feet.
“I have hope for the next two days,” he said. “I’m just trying to keep my tee shots on the fairway. If I can do that, I will have a chance for birdie or eagle. On the last hole, my drive ended up like 380 yards or something and I only had a nine iron into the green,” said the 39-year-old.
The halfway cut was set at two-over-par 144 with 67 players, including Singapore amateur Choo Tze Huang, progressing into the final two rounds. The Queen’s Cup, making its debut on the Asian Tour, is sponsored by the Sport Authority of Thailand and Bangkok Airways.
Leading second round scores (click here for full leaderboard):
131 - Chinnarat Phadungsil (THA) 66-65
134 - Yoshinobu Tsukada (JPN) 68-66, Danny Chia (MAS) 71-63
135 - Kim Dae-hyun (KOR) 68-67, Rick Kulacz (AUS) 68-67, Sung Mao-chang (TPE) 66-69
136 - Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 65-71, Mars Pucay (PHI) 68-68, Thammanoon Srirot (THA) 69-67, Jbe Kruger (RSA) 66-70, Lee Sung (KOR) 65-71
137 - Sattaya Supupramai (THA) 69-68, Himmat Rai (IND) 71-66, Udorn Duangdecha (THA) 70-67, Tony Carolan (AUS) 72-65
138 - Marvin Dumandan (PHI) 71-67, Hwang In-choon (KOR) 70-68, Mark Purser (NZL) 68-70, Chris Rodgers (ENG) 70-68, Eduardo Herrera (COL) 69-69
August 14, 2009