Asian Development Tour (ADT) Order of Merit leader Pavit Tangkamolprasert of Thailand shot a superb second round four-under-par 68 under blustery conditions to lead by one shot at the Taifong Open, which has been reduced to 54-holes on Saturday.
Officials had postponed the second round of the US$160,000 Taifong Open to Saturday after the local government announced school and office closures for Friday in anticipation of Typhoon Nepartak, which made landfall in Southern Taiwan that morning.
Tournament Director Wanchai Meechai said: “Following the delay of the second round, it has become clear that the completion of 72 holes within the required time frame is not feasible. Therefore the Taifong Open will be decided over 54 holes.”
The cutline was set at two-over-par 146 with 58 players advancing into the third and final round on Sunday at the Taifong Golf and Country Club. The Taifong Open is the second tournament to be shortened on the ADT schedule this season.
Defending champion Rattanon Wannasrichan of Thailand lurks in second place following a 71 while American Johannes Veerman and local hope Lee Chieh-po carded matching 70s to share third on 140 in what is the richest event on the ADT schedule this season.
Overnight co-leader Tseng Hong-sheng of Chinese Taipei returned with a 74 to tie in fifth place on 141 alongside a host of players, which included compatriot Lin Wen-tang, who is chasing to seal his Olympic berth, and two-time ADT winner Chikkarangappa. S of India.
Pavit, who claimed his fifth ADT title and second one in Chinese Taipei earlier in March, credited his positive state of mind for a steady performance which put him in prime position for a record sixth ADT victory and a second win this season.
“It was very tough. The wind was swirling and the wind direction changes all the time. My short game was really good today. I had some good recoveries from greenside and I managed to get up and downs which I thought was pretty tough.
“I kept my mental strong out there. I told myself making par or bogey is considered a good score given the conditions. Everyone’s facing the same conditions so I just had to stay patient. I have very low expectations today actually,” said the 27-year-old Thai, who won the ADT Order of Merit previously in 2014.
Pavit stood firmly grounded despite the swirling wind speed of up to 30kph. Starting from the first, he nailed two consecutive birdies from third to turn in 34. Despite dropping a shot on 10, the talented Thai recovered with another birdie on 12 before closing with two straight birdies.
“I’ll be happy if I can finish inside top-five this week. My game’s been good. I finished top-three on the Asian Tour last month and I am riding on that rich vein of form since. I am very confident with my game right now. I will try and keep to my rhythm. The aim is definitely to win the Order of Merit again,” added Pavit, who leads the Merit rankings with a current haul of US$41,166.
Title holder Rattanon traded four birdies against three bogeys to keep up his hopes for a successful title defence.
“It was really tough in the morning with the rain and wind. I actually hit it good on 17 but it went out of bounds due to the strong wind. I was lucky to still save it with a bogey,” said the 20-year-old Thai, who needed only 23 putts.
“The turning point came on the first where I chipped it for birdie from about 20 yards on the side of the green. I had hit my tee shot into the trees before that. I putted really well today too. I will keep it the same for tomorrow and try to enjoy my game,” Rattanon added.
The winner of the Taifong Open will take home a prize purse of US$28,000 and receive six OWGR points. The top-five finishers on the Merit rankings at the end of this season will secure Asian Tour cards for 2017.
For more information on the ADT, please visit www.asiandevelopmenttour.com
Leading second round scores:
138 – Pavit TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA) 70 68
139 – Rattanon WANNASRICHAN (THA) 68 71
140 – Johannes VEERMAN (USA) 70 70, LEE Chieh-po (TWN) 70 70
141 – Nirun SAE-UENG (THA) 69 72, Chanat SAKULPOLPHAISAN (THA) 69 72, LIN Wen-tang (TWN) 69 72, TSENG Hong-sheng (TWN) 67 74, Chikkarangappa S. (IND) 70 71, TSENG Tzu Hsuan (TWN) 72 69
142 – HSU Li-peng (TWN) 70 72, Panuwat MUENLEK (THA) 72 70, HUANG Hsiang-hao (TWN) 72 70, Mithun PERERA (SRI) 72 70, Poom SAKSANSIN (THA) 69 73, LU Wei-chih (TWN) 71 71, WANG Wei-lun (TWN) 71 71
143 – Michael WRIGHT (AUS) 71 72, Gavin GREEN (MAS) 72 71, Danny MASRIN (INA) 67 76, Shubhankar SHARMA (IND) 72 71, Raphael DE SOUSA (SUI) 70 73, HSU Hao-sheng (TWN) 72 71, Oscar ZETTERWALL (SWE) 72 71, CHAN Shih-chang (TWN) 70 73, K P LIN (TWN) 69 74