Defending champion Travis Smyth took the second-round lead in the Yeangder TPC today, putting himself two rounds away from becoming the first player to successfully retain the trophy.

After yesterday’s seven-under-par 65 he joyfully said: “This golf course loves me, and I love it!”, and he backed that up today with a 67 at Linkou International Golf and Country Club.

He leads the Asian Tour event on 12 under, by one from the 2012 winner Gaganjeet Bhullar (67) from India and Australian Jack Thompson (66).

A further shot back are Thailand’s Poom Saksansin (66), Pavit Tangkamolprasert (67), Phachara Khongwatmai (68), and Nitithorn Thippong (68), Lee Chieh-po (67) from Chinese-Taipei – second here last year – Justin Quiban from the Philippines (68) and Swede Bjorn Hellgren (70).

“It was pretty tough conditions today,” said Australian Smyth, whose victory last season remain his only win on the Asian Tour.

“The wind was mainly across on like just about every hole, so it was hard to get pin high – had to be very patient. It wasn’t as clean as it was yesterday. But to shoot five under, it was a pretty good score. I would have been happy with anything under par to be honest, it was it was tough.”

One birdie on the front and four on the back, including on 18, saw him snatch the outright lead at the end, to set up a thrilling weekend.

He added: “I mean, it’s good that [last year’s win] is in the back of my mind. It’s in the memory bank, but that was last year, this is this year. A lot has changed, a lot can happen. A lot of golf to be played, so I just keep trying to hit good shots and good putts and add it up at the end.”

Bhullar eagled the first and made five birdies and two bogeys and is looking for his first win since last year’s Mandiri Indonesia Open, which was his 10th Asian Tour title.

He said: “Yeah I played well, I’ve been driving the ball really well, even yesterday and today. You know, I hit the ball very really well. I got off to a really good start, hit a driver and six-iron on the first, nearly holed my second shot, so started with an eagle. And then, you know, just kept on building the momentum after that.”

Thompson, winner of this year’s Asian Tour Qualifying School, has been showing glimpses of his potential this season and did so today with an sensational second nine – which is the course’s front nine as he started on 10. He played it in 29 strokes, thanks to an eagle and five birdies.

“I played the back nine first and I actually lost my tee shot on the first hole, so pretty happy with the result considering that,” said the Australian, who was eight under for his last 10 holes.

“I think it was one of those ones that just everything was clicking. Once I sort of made a few on the front nine the pressure was sort of, I guess gone. I’ve been putting it well, so I just hit it and I gave myself looks and I made the putts, so it was good.”

Phachara’s presence on the leaderboard is no surprise as two weeks ago he said he had rediscovered his golf swing and is playing some of the best golf of his career, after narrowly losing a sudden-death play-off in Korea.

He was beaten by Korean Guntaek Koh on the first hole of extra-time at the Shinhan Donghae Open but was buzzing with excitement after ironing out kinks in his swing with his coach, the week before.

“I just like play my game now and go make a lot of birdies and try to shoot low,” said Phachara.

“Hopefully I can have a chance this week. Right now, I’m hitting it pretty good on whatever course I play – if it’s time to win, I’m going to have a chance.”

He made four birdies and did not drop a shot, having started on 10 with three birdies on that half.

He added: “My all-round game is back now, driving well, but also getting up and down.”

The 24-year-old claimed his first title on the Asian Tour at the 2021 Laguna Phuket Championship but to the surprise of many he has not added to that but with renewed confidence in his game that might change soon.

First-round leader Natipong Srithong from Thailand carded a 73 and is eight under in a tie for 17th.

Scores after round 2 of the Yeangder TPC being played at the par 72, 7108 Yards Linkou GcC course (am – denotes amateur):
132 – Travis Smyth (AUS) 65-67.
133 – Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) 66-67, Jack Thompson (AUS) 67-66.
134 – Justin Quiban (PHI) 66-68, Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA) 67-67, Nitithorn Thippong (THA) 66-68, Phachara Khongwatmai (THA) 66-68, Bjorn Hellgren (SWE) 64-70, Poom Saksansin (THA) 68-66, Lee Chieh-po (TWN) 67-67.
135 – Su Ching-hung (am, TWN) 65-70, Micah Lauren Shin (USA) 66-69, Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA) 67-68, Chapchai Nirat (THA) 65-70, Ho Yu-cheng (TWN) 67-68, Ian Snyman (RSA) 68-67.
136 – Matthew Cheung (HKG) 65-71, Lai Chia-i (TWN) 71-65, Rashid Khan (IND) 70-66, Kosuke Hamamoto (THA) 65-71, Natipong Srithong (THA) 63-73, Hung Chien-yao (TWN) 67-69, Hanmil Jung (KOR) 67-69.
137 – Josh Younger (AUS) 66-71, Jaco Ahlers (RSA) 67-70, Jbe Kruger (RSA) 68-69, Settee Prakongvech (THA) 68-69, Douglas Klein (AUS) 69-68, Nicholas Fung (MAS) 66-71.
138 – Shahriffuddin Ariffin (MAS) 68-70, Denwit Boriboonsub (THA) 73-65, Huang Chi (TWN) 71-67, Yeh Yu-chen (TWN) 68-70, Veer Ahlawat (IND) 68-70, Mingyu Cho (KOR) 67-71, Karandeep Kochhar (IND) 67-71, Chang Wei-lun (TWN) 70-68, Chan Shih-chang (TWN) 68-70, Michael Maguire (USA) 71-67.
139 – Huang Yi-tseng (TWN) 68-71, Chikkarangappa S. (IND) 68-71, Taichi Kho (HKG) 67-72, Turk Pettit (USA) 68-71, Liu Yung-hua (TWN) 67-72, MJ Viljoen (RSA) 66-73, Lloyd Jefferson Go (PHI) 70-69, Khalin Joshi (IND) 69-70, Tom Power-Horan (AUS) 68-71.
140 – Nicolas Paez (USA) 67-73, Ben Leong (MAS) 69-71, Jarin Todd (USA) 71-69, Viraj Madappa (IND) 74-66, Ben Campbell (NZL) 69-71, Sadom Kaewkanjana (THA) 72-68, Meenwhee Kim (KOR) 68-72, Berry Henson (USA) 69-71, Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA) 70-70, Jaewoong Eom (KOR) 71-69, Yuvraj Singh Sandhu (IND) 69-71.
141 – Mardan Mamat (SGP) 71-70, Danthai Boonma (THA) 70-71, Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND) 70-71, Shapiyate Mako (TWN) 72-69, Liu Yen-hung (TWN) 69-72, Dodge Kemmer (USA) 73-68, Terry Pilkadaris (AUS) 71-70, Siddikur Rahman (BAN) 69-72, K P Lin (TWN) 70-71, Chang Tse-yu (TWN) 68-73.
142 – Prom Meesawat (THA) 67-75, Atiruj Winaicharoenchai (THA) 71-71, Gunn Charoenkul (THA) 72-70, Pichaikool Tanapat (THA) 70-72, Wen Cheng-hsiang (TWN) 68-74, Kevin Yuan (AUS) 73-69, Sarit Suwannarut (THA) 67-75, Itthipat Buranatanyarat (THA) 70-72, Lu Wei-chih (TWN) 71-71, Tsai Tsung-yu (TWN) 70-72.
143 – Honey Baisoya (IND) 72-71, Cho Tsung-lin (TWN) 77-66, Jack Murdoch (AUS) 72-71, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit (THA) 70-73, Hung Chao-hsin (TWN) 70-73, Suteepat Prateeptienchai (THA) 68-75, Kieran Vincent (ZIM) 70-73, Steve Lewton (ENG) 73-70, Richard T. Lee (CAN) 71-72, Neil Schietekat (RSA) 73-70, Fang Chuan-wei (TWN) 72-71.
144 – Miguel Carballo (ARG) 74-70, Angelo Que (PHI) 72-72, Chen Tze-chung (TWN) 71-73, Kartik Sharma (IND) 71-73, Sung Mao-chang (TWN) 68-76, David Drysdale (SCO) 71-73, S.S.P. Chawrasia (IND) 69-75, Hsu Yu-cheng (TWN) 72-72.
145 – Hsieh Cheng-wei (am, TWN) 71-74, Lu Sun-yi (TWN) 73-72, Hsieh Chi-hsien (TWN) 73-72, Runchanapong Youprayong (THA) 70-75, Yonggu Shin (CAN) 68-77, Huang Kuan-hsun (TWN) 71-74, Alex Ching (USA) 74-71, Jeev Milkha Singh (IND) 73-72, Lin Wen-tang (TWN) 74-71, Trevor Simsby (USA) 74-71, Chen Wei-sheng (TWN) 70-75, Wang Wei-hsuan (TWN) 72-73.
146 – Liao Huan-jyun (TWN) 76-70, Sean Yu (TWN) 72-74, Chen Hsuan-yi (am, TWN) 71-75, Chonlatit Chuenboonngam (THA) 69-77, Naraajie Ramadhanputra (INA) 73-73, Ervin Chang (MAS) 72-74, Pawin Ingkhapradit (THA) 73-73, Wang Hsi-an (TWN) 72-74.
147 – Chanat Sakulpolphaisan (THA) 71-76, Tsai Kai-jen (TWN) 72-75, Lu Wen-teh (TWN) 77-70, Lien Lu-sen (TWN) 74-73, Fang Yin-jen (TWN) 75-72, Ben Jones (ENG) 73-74, Chen Yi-tong (TWN) 72-75.
148 – LIN Yung-lung (TWN) 69-79, Kuo Feng-chuan (TWN) 72-76, Lin Cheng-yu (TWN) 72-76, Chang Yu-cheng (TWN) 72-76.
149 – Shen Wei-cheng (TWN) 73-76.
150 – Kao Teng (TWN) 71-79, Ye Wocheng (CHN) 75-75, Yikeun Chang (KOR) 79-71.
151 – Lin Keng-wei (TWN) 73-78, Michael Tran (VNM) 78-73, Rahil Gangjee (IND) 73-78.
152 – Hsieh Tung-hung (TWN) 78-74, Harrison Gilbert-Wong (AUS) 75-77.
153 – Tsai Yu-ta (TWN) 74-79.
154 – Wang Wei-hsiang (TWN) 77-77.
158 – Ryuta Kamimura (JPN) 79-79.
163 – Lu Chien-soon (TWN) 82-81.

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