Big-hitting Scott Hend equalled the course record of eight-under-par 64 to earn a share of the halfway lead with Sweden’s Pelle Edberg at the True Thailand Classic presented by Chang on Friday.
The Aussie, a seven-time Asian Tour winner, rode on an eagle and six birdies in the second round at a sun-kissed Black Mountain Golf Club for a 12-under-par 132 total which was matched by Edberg, who came home in 67.
Thailand’s Panuphol Pittayarat charged into contention with a 65 in the US$1.75 million event co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour to lie one back while Black Mountain resident Simon Yates of Scotland, 2014 Asian Tour Order of Merit winner David Lipsky of the United States, South African Shaun Norris, Welshman Rhys Davies and overnight leader Peter Uihlein of the US were amongst those bunched on 135.
A week after finishing on the bottom of the leaderboard with a 22-over-par total at the WGC-Cadillac Champiionship in Doral, the 42-year-old Hend put himself in contention again with a sublime performance where he hit all 18 greens in regulation.
“Yeah, it’s good to get into position once again, we’ll see happens,” said Hend, who finished tied second here last season. “I like this course, I like coming to Thailand as it’s a friendly place. After a lacklustre effort last week, we’ll see what comes now. I played atrociously, drove the ball poorly, putted poorly. I was very disappointed with my performance last week. I just want to do something for myself (this week).”
With the par 72, 7,492-yard Black Mountain course suited for the bombers, Hend is determined to take advantage of his length again over the weekend after swapping drivers.
“I have a few driver worries and I’ve been messing about a little bit. I used a different putter every day around Doral too as I wasn’t putting very well either. This is golf, we all go through it. We put putters in buckets of water hoping they behave the next day!” said the Aussie.
Edberg put himself in position to win an elusive first European Tour win at the True Thailand Classic presented by Chang but the Swede refused to get ahead of himself. “I think we have to talk about this on Sunday. But yeah, it feels nice to see your name up there. It gets easier as well but on the other hand, I hope I’m not as nervoustomorrow as I was on Thursday,” said Edberg, who posted seven birdies against two dropped shots.
The stocky Panuphol won a luxurious Black Mountain townhouse for a hole-in-one on the 14th hole here last year but is hoping to bag the top prize this time around after a bogey-free 65.
The 23-year-old Thai is treating this week as a holiday, soaking in the sun and enjoying the beach at the coastal town of Hua Hin as he attempts to land a maiden Asian Tour title.
“The result was good. I didn’t hit my tee shots or irons well but my short game was good. I struck it better yesterday but today, I took my chances and I’m pleased with it. Not hitting it well but scoring well and getting the job done,” said Panuphol.
“To be honest, I never play well here and I never score well here. This week, I’m just taking a chill pill and giving it a go. The result has come up pretty good.”
Veteran Yates, who turns 46 next week, rolled back the years with a 68 leaving him within striking distance of the leaders. A putter loaned to him by the owner of Black Mountain did wonders as he took only 27 putts today.
“Retirement!” he responded with laughter when asked what his goals were at this stage of his career.
The two-time Asian Tour winner added: “No, when you play as well as I did today you think to yourself, ‘I have still got it’. I have a new driver which has made a big difference. The other club that is working well is the Ping Anser putter that the owner of Black Mountain (Stig Notlov) gave me last week. I was telling Stig that my putting was terrible and he gave me the putter and told me to use it, so I did.”
The halfway cut was set at 142 with title holder Andrew Dodt of Australia, Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez amongst those missing the weekend action.
Scores after round 2 of the True Thailand Classic presented by Chang 2016 being played at the par 72, 7,492 Yards Black Mountain course (am – denotes amateur):
132 – Pelle EDBERG (SWE) 65-67, Scott HEND (AUS) 68-64.
133 – Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 68-65.
135 – Simon YATES (SCO) 67-68, David LIPSKY (USA) 67-68, Shaun NORRIS (RSA) 67-68, Peter UIHLEIN (USA) 64-71, Rhys DAVIES (WAL) 67-68.
136 – Benjamin HEBERT (FRA) 72-64, Piya SWANGARUNPORN (THA) 68-68, Chiragh KUMAR (IND) 68-68, Rashid KHAN (IND) 70-66, Marc WARREN (SCO) 68-68, Javi COLOMO (ESP) 66-70.
137 – Carlos PIGEM (ESP) 69-68.
138 – Joost LUITEN (NED) 70-68, Somsak KAOPRATUM (THA) 70-68, Chapchai NIRAT (THA) 70-68, Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 68-70, Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 69-69, Robert DINWIDDIE (ENG) 67-71, HSIEH Chi-hsien (TPE) 67-71.
139 – Nicolas COLSAERTS (BEL) 73-66, Gregory HAVRET (FRA) 69-70, Mikko Korhonen (FIN) 70-69, Anthony KANG (USA) 68-71, Gary BOYD (ENG) 67-72, Jason SCRIVENER (AUS) 72-67, Joakim LAGERGREN (SWE) 68-71, Thomas PIETERS (BEL) 73-66, Jorge CAMPILLO (ESP) 68-71