Kuboya tightens his grip

A 5-under 67 will enable Kenichi Kuboya to take his lead into the weekend at the Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open.

A second-round 5-under 67 will enable Japan’s Kenichi Kuboya to take his first round lead into the weekend at the Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open

Kuboya extended his lead to two with a two-day, 12-under total of 132 while Australia’s Adam Groom who had earlier taken the morning lead with a 66, is tied for second alongside Korea’s Kim Hyung-sung who posted a 65 at the season’s penultimate full field Asian Tour event before the Black Mountain Masters finale in Hua Hin next week.

Thailand’s Panuwat Muenlek added a 67 to his opening 68 to take fourth place alongside young compatriot Atiwit Janewattananond, who at 15 years old, is seeking to become the youngest winner on the Asian Tour.

Defending champion Marcus Both of Australia posted a 69 for a share of sixth place with Indonesia’s Rory Hie and Guido Van der Valk of the Netherlands on matching 136s.

Kuboya showed no signs of relinquishing his first round lead when he got off strongly again by firing three birdies on holes 13th, 15th and 17th in his outward nine.

The Japanese continued to take command with another flawless round by adding further birdies on the second and sixth holes in his inward nine.

“It was another good day for me. The weather conditions were good and I putted really well today. I hope to cement my lead at the top tomorrow,” said the Japanese.

Groom, who finished second at the inaugural event in 2007, showed his liking for the Phokeethra Country Club again when he went on a birdie blitz, marking his card with a total of seven birdies.

Starting his round tied for fifth, the 31-year-old got off quickly with a birdie on the second hole. He dropped his only shot of the round at the par-three sixth but recovered quickly with birdies on holes seven and eight to reach the turn in 34.

“I didn’t play well at the sixth hole but I got back the birdies at the seventh and eighth holes. It was good to birdie those holes as they are one of the toughest here and it’s good to get to two under at the turn,” said Groom.

Groom continued to mark his card with another birdie on the 13th hole before storming home with three successive birdies starting from the 16th hole.

“I played pretty steady especially on my back-nine Those birdies on the last three holes were really good. It’s a relaxing week and I look forward to better golf this weekend,” added the Australian.

Panuwat kept up his charge for his career breakthrough on the Asian Tour by mixing seven birdies against two bogeys.

The 25-year-old Thai was however left to rue two costly dropped shots in his opening front-nine, which he felt that he could have done better.

“I bogeyed the first and fourth holes as I couldn’t control the shots the way I wanted to. If not for these bogeys, my score would have been lower, giving me a better chance to win my first Asian Tour title,” said Panuwat.

Both posted another blemish-free round of 69 but continued to stay four back of the leader.

While he was satisfied with his position on the leaderboard, the defending champion knows that he will have to play better over the weekend to secure a double at the Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open.

“Three under is not too bad, just a couple of shots behind heading into the weekend rounds. However, I’m not entirely happy. There’s still a little bit of work to do but certainly better than the other players who were further down the leaderboard,” said Both.

“Having said that, I feel like I’m executing the game well and it’s just a matter of hitting a few more shots closer to the pins tomorrow,” added Both.

Meanwhile Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand made up for his slow start where he posted an opening 70 with a 67 for a share of ninth place.

“It was a good day today and I played really well. I was just getting back into my rhythm after a week’s break at home and I feel like I’m all ready to compete again,” said the three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner.