May 19, 2016: Indian hotshot Gaganjeet Bhullar continued his fine form by signing for a five-under-par 66 to grab a share of the halfway lead with young Thai talent Rattanon Wannasrichan at the US$300,000 Thailand Open on Friday.
Starting the day with a three-shot deficit, the 29-year-old Bhullar traded six birdies against one bogey to move atop the leaderboard with overnight co-leader Rattanon, who battled to a 69, on 11-under-par 131 total at the scenic Thai Country Club.
“When you get off to a good start, it gives you a lot of confidence and momentum going into the round. I just stayed consistent out there. I am happy to be in a good position right now. There are a lot of good players playing this week.” – Gaganjeet Bhullar
Local prospect Pawin Ingkhapradit returned with the day’s best score of 62 to trail the leading duo by one in third place while compatriot Panuphol Pittayarat, who is playing on his home course this week, posted a bogey-free 69 to sit in fourth on 133.
Indian stalwart Jeev Milkha Singh rolled back the years in style by signing for a flawless 63. He sits three shots off the pace in fifth place alongside a host of players, which includes Ben Leong (64) of Malaysia, Thai star Kiradech Aphibarnrat (68) and Australian Scott Barr (67), who turned 45 years old today.
Reigning Order of Merit champion Scott Hend of Australia posted a 67 to move into a share of 18th place on 136. American David Lipsky, after opening with a 74, bounced back with a 67 to barely make the halfway cut set at one-under-par 141.
The Thailand Open, inaugurated in 1965, is also the first leg of the newly launched Panasonic Swing, which provides a bonus pool across five designated tournaments.
Did you know?
- Bhullar is a seven-time winner on the Asian Tour.
- Bhullar bounced back from a wrist injury he sustained in 2014 by winning the 2016 Shinhan Donghae Open in Korea and clinching the Indonesia Open title for the second time in his career two months later.
- Bhullar has only dropped one shot in the first two rounds of the Thailand Open.
- Rattanon started working with a new coach, by the name of Lervit Boonsombat, at the start of the season. Lervit made some changes to Rattanon’s swing which helped him eliminate his hooks.
- The 21-year-old Rattanon is chasing for a maiden win on the Asian Tour. He has notched two top-five results so far this season.
- Rattanon represented Thailand during his amateur days and won the team and individual gold medals at the 2011 Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia. He turned professional the following year in 2012.
- Rattanon finished 60th on the 2016 Order of Merit to secure the last Asian Tour card on offer for 2017.
- Rattanon navigated his way around the course with 26 putts today. He needed only 20 putts in the opening round on Thursday.