Overnight leader Jamie Donaldson of Wales continued to set the pace with a second round four-under-par 68 at the Thailand Golf Championship on Friday.
The Welshman compiled a two-day total of 13-under-par 131 to take a two-shot advantage over closest rival Martin Kaymer of Germany, who kept up his charge at the Amata Spring Country Club with a 65.
Spain’s Sergio Garcia also lived up to his billing as one of the pre-tournament favourites by signing for a 69 to stay within sights of Donaldson, trailing him by four shots together with Thailand’s Chinnarat Phadungsil and England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick on 135 total in tied-third place at the US$1 million Asian Tour event.
Donaldson continued where he left off after the first day by maintaining his position atop the leaderboard on a day where temperatures soared to a high of 34 degree Celsius.
While it was unlike the flawless card he had signed for on the opening day, the 40-year-old still made his mark with a commanding performance that was highlighted by seven birdies and three bogeys.
“It can be tough out there and it’s important to get off to a good start. You need to keep the momentum going and I managed to do that today. It was very hot and a case of trying to stay hydrated and not sweat too much on the ball.
“I’ve played well for the first two days. I dropped a couple of shots but I just got to keep doing what I’ve been doing. Overall, I’ve been playing nicely,” said Donaldson.
Kaymer, who is looking to erase the heartbreak of last year where he was pipped to the Thailand Golf Championship by one shot, showed great resolve in getting the job done this week.
The Major winner was at his best when he birdied two of his opening three holes in his opening back-nine 10.
He dropped his only shot of the round at the par-four 14 before picking up another gain on 18.
Kaymer then went on a birdie blitz in his inward-nine by charging home in 31.
“They say you get a nicer weather playing in the morning but that was not really the case. It was like a sauna out there. It was really warm but the good thing is that the ball actually goes a bit further.
“I just need to stay where I am heading into the weekends. I am hitting a lot of fairways and I think it’s really important.Driving will be the key to score well this week,’ said Kaymer.
Despite the hot and humid conditions, Fitzpatrick showed his determination in making his debut at the Thailand Golf Championship a memorable one.
“It was very warm today. I got off to a slow start on the first nine and then had to have a think and got refocused after that. Three birdies in the last five were a good way to finish, as was with the five-under,” said Fitzpatrick.
After breaking into the world’s top-50 for the first time in his career following several sterling performances including his maiden win at British Masters in October, the 21-year-old is setting his sights on more glory this week.
“Consistency has been the key this year. I’ve been trying to do all the right things this year and with the right team around me it’s working.
“The plan has been working and has got me to nine-under so far. A four-under, five-under weekend would hopefully not leave me too far away,” said Fitzpatrick.
Garcia also remains optimistic of adding his name to the roll of honour at the Thailand Golf Championship again and is hopeful of finding the form that led to his win in Vietnam last week
“I had a good start to the week and I thought shooting nine-under for the first two rounds is pretty good.
“Obviously still a little bit behind the leaders but I will try my best to cap a good weekend and hopefully contend again like how I did in Vietnam last week,” said the 2013 Thailand Golf Championship winner.
The weekend cut was set at even-par with 66 players progressing into the final two rounds.
Leading scores after round 2 of the Thailand Golf Championship being played at the par 72, 7498 Yards Amata Spring GcC course (am – denotes amateur):
131 – Jamie DONALDSON (WAL) 63-68.
133 – Martin KAYMER (GER) 68-65.
135 – Matthew FITZPATRICK (ENG) 68-67, Sergio GARCIA (ESP) 66-69, Chinnarat PHADUNGSIL (THA) 66-69.
136 – Byeonghun AN (KOR) 69-67, Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 70-66.
137 – Clement SORDET (FRA) 71-66.
138 – Sam BRAZEL (AUS) 70-68, Sunghoon KANG (KOR) 70-68.
139 – Joost LUITEN (NED) 69-70, Lee WESTWOOD (ENG) 71-68, Brett MUNSON (USA) 67-72, Phachara KHONGWATMAI (THA) 68-71, Matthew GILES (AUS) 69-70, Natipong SRITHONG (THA) 67-72, Jacques BLAAUW (RSA) 70-69, Chanat SAKULPOLPHAISAN (THA) 66-73.
140 – JIN Cheng (am, CHN) 73-67, Nicolas COLSAERTS (BEL) 70-70, Darren CLARKE (NIR) 69-71, David LIPSKY (USA) 73-67, Antonio LASCUNA (PHI) 73-67, Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 73-67, Zander LOMBARD (RSA) 71-69, Jason KNUTZON (USA) 72-68, Berry HENSON (USA) 70-70.
141 – Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA) 69-72, S.S.P CHAWRASIA (IND) 72-69, Bubba WATSON (USA) 71-70