Namchok extends lead
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, December 22: Thailand’s Namchok Tantipokhakul continued to dominate after signing for a four-under-par 67 and extending his lead to three at the halfway stage of the season-ending Boonchu Ruangkit Championship on Friday.
After opening his campaign with a 63, the 30-year-old Namchok marked his card with one eagle and five birdies against three bogeys to remain on top of the leaderboard with a 12-under-par 130 total at the Rancho Charnvee Resorts and Country Club.
Local prospect Chanachok Dejpiratanamongkol was the only player to stay bogey-free heading into the weekend. He fired four birdies en route to a 67 to take second place on his own at the ฿4 million (approximately US$120,000) Asian Development Tour (ADT) event.
South African Mathiam Keyser and Thailand’s Jakraphan Premsirigorn, placed seventh and ninth respectively on the Merit rankings, kept up their chase for the Asian Tour cards on offer after returning with rounds of 67 and 66 to share third place with Janne Kaske (67) of Finland on 136.
American Blake Snyder, also chasing for his Asian Tour card in eighth place on the money list, carded a 67 to settle seven shots off the pace in sixth place alongside a host of seven players, including Thai star Thongchai Jaidee (66) and defending champion Danthai Boonma (68).
Namchok, a one-time winner on the ADT, lamented his poor iron-play but took pride in his impeccable short game which saw him left his putter in the bag with a brilliant chip-in eagle on the par-four 18th hole.
“My iron-play wasn’t as good today but I am still putting well and my short game was good. I think I got lucky on the 18th hole. I chipped it in from about 30 yards from the right greenside. I didn’t even see the ball go in,” said Namchok.
“I started well with a birdie on 10 after making a four-footer. I am happy to get off to a good momentum as it helps a lot. It wasn’t really windy when I started out today too. It’s been two years since I last won a tournament. I hope to continue my good form,” added the burly Thai.
Chanachok, who claimed his breakthrough win on home soil earlier in May, showed his fondness for the course once again after putting himself in contention for the second year running at the Boonchu Ruangkit Championship.
“I played really well but I made some mistakes with my putting today. My stroke is good but I wasn’t able to read the lines well today. I made a long putt from 30 feet on the difficult hole 11 and that was the highlight for me today.
“It was not as windy as yesterday so it’s slightly easier. I like this golf course. I played well here last year. It’s not too difficult off the tee as the fairways are wide. I will try and play more aggressively over the weekend,” said the 23-year-old Chanachok.
The young Thai had held a three-shot lead heading into the final round last year before settling for a tied-10th finish following a closing 73.
Having won two career titles this year, Chanachok believes his mental side of the game is now sharper than before and will help him achieve better results this time.
“I came close to winning last year after taking the third-round lead but I got nervous on the last day. I think my mental game is stronger now, having won twice this season. I hope I can handle it better if I can put myself in that position again,” added Chanachok.
Keyser is delighted to give himself a fighting chance to break into top-five on the Order of Merit but plans to take a simple approach and not give himself unnecessary pressure heading into the weekend.
“I will be lying if I say I am not thinking about the Order of Merit chase. But whatever happens, happens. I will just try my best for the week. I just want to have fun and see what happens,” said Keyser, who needs at least a fourth-place finish to secure his Asian Tour card.
The halfway cut was set at one-over-par 143 with 55 players, including two amateurs, progressing into the weekend rounds.
The leading five players on the final ADT Order of Merit at the end of the week will earn playing rights on the region’s premier Tour for 2018.
Leading second round scores:
130 – Namchok TANTIPOKHAKUL (THA) 63 67
133 – Chanachok DEJPIRATANAMONGKOL (THA) 66 67
136 – Mathiam KEYSER (RSA) 69 67, Jakraphan PREMSIRIGORN (THA) 70 66, Janne KASKE (FIN) 69 67
137 – Blake SNYDER (USA) 70 67, Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 71 66, Danthai BOONMA (THA) 69 68, Poom SAKSANSIN (THA) 67 70, Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 69 68, Chawalit PLAPHOL (THA) 69 68, Chaiphat KOONMARK (THA) 70 67
138 – Donlaphatchai NIYOMCHON (THA) 68 70, Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA) 68 70, Peradol PANYATHANASEDH (THA) 69 69, Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA) 73 65, Chinnarat PHADUNGSIL (THA) 72 66, Itthipat BURANATANYARAT (THA) 65 73, Kittiporn JAVANAPONG (THA) 69 69
139 – Tirawat KAEWSIRIBANDIT (THA) 71 68, Pawin INGKHAPRADIT (THA) 70 69, Prayad MARKSAENG (THA) 68 71, Berry HENSON (USA) 68 71, Tanapat PICHAIKOOLL (A) (THA) 70 69, Sorachut HANSAPIBAN (THA) 71 68, Dino A. GIACOMAZZI (USA) 66 73
143 – Pannakorn Uthaipas (Tha) 71 72
143 – John Catlin (Usa) 75 68
146 – Masaru Takahashi (Jpn) 71 75
155 – Nattawat Suvajanakorn (Tha)