diamondThai veteran Prayad Marksaeng fired a two-under-par 68 without missing a fairway and green to lead at the halfway stage of the Asia-Pacific Open Mitsubishi Diamond Cup on Friday.

The in-form 49-year-old, who is a nine-time Asian Tour winner, overcame the rain and cold to lead by one-shot on five-under-par 135 after holing a birdie on the last hole at the Otone Country Club, West course.

K.T. Kim of Korea birdied three in his last four holes for a 69 to trail by one shot while Japan’s Hideto Tanihara, Toshinori Muto, Shunsuke Sonoda and Hyungsung Kim of Korea were a further shot back in tied third position.

Defending champion Hiroyuki Fujita and Ryo Ishikawa shared 18th place after posting a 69 and 71 respectively at the Y150 million (approximately US$1.2 million) event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour.

The evergreen Prayad said he could have returned with a lower score as he missed several close birdie attempts and three putted for bogey on the 17th hole.

“I had a lot of birdie chances. My game was good except my putting. It was the same yesterday where I missed a lot of short putts. It would have been a better day if those putts went in,” said Prayad.

The experienced Thai is enjoying a rich vein of form as he won one title on the Asian Tour and in Japan this year. He credits a healthy lifestyle to his success.

“I’m confident with my game because I’m physically fit. I play a lot in Japan and to avoid the cold, I spend some time in the hot springs after my rounds. That really helps keep me healthy,” Prayad explained.

Kim, who has yet to miss the cut and won three times in 2015, stayed in the red when he birdied 15 and gained two shots on holes 17 and 18.

“It was a very challenging day and we all struggled. I’m happy with my finish and that will give me some confidence heading into the last two rounds,” said the Korean, who won his first Asian Tour title on home soil in 2007.

Tanihara, who was part of Team Asia who forced a 10-10 tie with Team Europe in the inaugural EurAsia Cup last year, was happy to scramble to a 68 in the wet conditions.

“I couldn’t get enough distance and my ball was going all over the place. It is an open game because of the challenging course and weather. I was really hoping I could get under-par and I guess I achieved my target,” said Tanihara, a 10-time winner in Japan.

The halfway cut was set at three-over-par 143 with a total of 67 players advancing into the weekend.


Scores after round 2 of the Asia Pacific Open Mitsubishi Diamond Cup being played at the par 70, 7101 Yards Otone CC course (am – denotes amateur):

135 – Prayad MARKSAENG (THA) 67-68.

136 – K.T. KIM (KOR) 67-69.

137 – Hideto TANIHARA (JPN) 69-68, Toshinori MUTO (JPN) 69-68, Hyungsung KIM (KOR) 68-69, Shunsuke SONODA (JPN) 70-67.

138 – Scott STRANGE (AUS) 64-74, Adam BLAND (AUS) 70-68, Yuki INAMORI (JPN) 73-65, Yuta IKEDA (JPN) 68-70, Shugo IMAHIRA (JPN) 70-68.

139 – Chinnarat PHADUNGSIL (THA) 70-69, Taihei SATO (am, JPN) 70-69, Akio SADAKATA (JPN) 66-73, Satoshi KODAIRA (JPN) 71-68, Shingo KATAYAMA (JPN) 71-68, Daisuke KATAOKA (JPN) 69-70.

140 – Tomohiro KONDO (JPN) 68-72, Wen-chong LIANG (CHN) 69-71, Satoshi TOMIYAMA (JPN) 71-69, I.J. JANG (KOR) 71-69, Tetsuji HIRATSUKA (JPN) 74-66, Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 67-73, Richard T. LEE (CAN) 66-74, Koumei ODA (JPN) 72-68, Atomu SHIGENAGA (JPN) 70-70, Hiroyuki FUJITA (JPN) 71-69, Ryo ISHIKAWA (JPN) 69-71, Keiichiro FUKABORI (JPN) 68-72, Lionel WEBER (FRA) 69-71, Lucas HERBET (am, AUS) 71-69, Yusaku MIYAZATO (JPN) 70-70, Achi SATO (JPN) 70-70.

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