Thaworn grabs Asian Tour lead

Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant signalled his intention of winning his 12th Asian Tour title on Friday.

Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant signalled his intention of winning his 12th Asian Tour title by posting a second round five-under-par 67 that rocketed him into the second round lead at the inaugural Yeangder Tournament Players Championship (TPC) on Friday.

Thaworn also remains on course to matching compatriot and reigning Order of Merit winner Thongchai Jaidee’s record of 12 Asian Tour victories after signing for a two-day total of eight-under-par 136 at the Linkou International Golf Club.

Malaysia’s Iain Steel kept up his charge for his maiden win on the Asian Tour by adding a 69 to his opening 68 to take second place while Australia’s David Gleeson and Tsai Chi-huang of Chinese Taipei are a further shot back in third place on 138 total.

Ben Fox and Matthew Rosenfeld of the United States posted matching 139s to take equal fifth at the US$300,000 full field Asian Tour event.

While the record-equalling feat is on track for Thaworn, the 43-year-old Thai, who already has three top-10 finishes this season, also believes that a victory at this week’s inaugural event will provide the impetus needed to mount a serious challenge at several upcoming high profile events on the Asian Tour Schedule.

“I’ve been playing well this season and my good form has given me lots of self-belief. I’m feeling good about my game and I’m ready to contend for the title this week,” said Thaworn who carded six birdies and a bogey.

“A win will definitely be nice as it’ll give me confidence when I play in the big events coming up in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore,” added the Thai.

Steel who started the day tied for second, reeled in birdies on holes two and four before dropping his only bogey of the day at the par-three eighth.

The Malaysian then added two more birdies on the 11th and 18th holes after the turn to sign for a 69.

“I didn’t hit my drivers and approaches as well as I could have. It was like a ham and egg round today and I came out with three-under,” said Steel.

“I still got to try to make birdies when I can. It’s quite tricky as the greens are very grainy. The par-fives are there for the birdies. The course is not very long but you’ve got to be careful and make some putts when you can,” added the Malaysian

Meanwhile Gleeson believes that he will have to improve on his driving if he wants to win his third Asian Tour title this week.

“I played pretty poorly today. I made a couple of chips and putts but hit three bad drives on the par-fives,” said the Australian.

Overnight leader Lu Wen-teh of Chinese Taipei was disappointed not to have retained his momentum of the first round. He could only shoot a second-round 73 for a share of seventh place.

“I just didn’t play as well as I did yesterday. I had a steady round on my front-nine with one birdie but committed too many mistakes on my back-nine resulting in two bogeys.

“It’s disappointing but there’re still two more rounds to play and I still hope to do well,” said the 47-year-old veteran.