June 16, 2017: Thailand’s veteran star Thaworn Wiratchant hit a glorious back nine 28 en route to an eight-under-par 63 to snatch the halfway lead at the Queen’s Cup on Friday. S.S.P Chawrasia and Rashid Khan were lying third after scoring three-under-par 68 and one-under-par 70 respectively.
The 50-year-old Thaworn, who holds the most Asian Tour wins with 18 titles, was in mesmerizing form at Santiburi Samui Country Club, a venue which saw him triumph in the 2012 and 2014 Queen’s Cup and 2008 Bangkok Airways Open.
After turning in one under with two birdies and one bogey, the double Asian Tour number one rolled in seven birdies, including four-in-a-row from the 10th hole to equal his best round at Samui and lead by one from playing partner Nicholas Fung of Malaysia.
Fung, who is chasing a maiden Asian Tour title, carded a 68 while six players – India’s S.S.P. Chawrasia (68) and Rashid Khan (70), Filipino Angelo Que (70) and Juvic Pagunsan (67), Thailand’s Prayad Marksaeng (70) and Pasavee Lertvilai (66) – are two off the pace in the US$500,000 tournament sponsored by Bangkok Airways and Sports Authority of Thailand.
Straight-shooting Chawrasia, ranked second on the Order of Merit, could have ended the second round one shot closer to the lead had he not signed for a higher score on his last hole, the ninth, which he birdied but signed for a par. The Indian six-time winner, who sank an eagle and one birdie in his bogey-free card, can take over top spot on the Merit list if he finishes second with another golfer or better on Sunday.
“I’m playing good. I’m happy. I’m looking forward to the next two days. If I win it, I can be number one on the Order of Merit. If I can finish as number one, it’ll be my biggest achievement. I’ll be trying my best to get it.
My putting has been a bit of a struggle. I’m hitting it good but need to putt better. I can win the tournament if I putt better. The greens are a bit slower than in previous years here. My confidence is high and I feel really good.
On his higher score signed on hole 9 where he shot a birdie three but signed for a par four?
It’s my own fault. I didn’t check my scorecard. This is the second time it’s happened in my career.” said, Chawrasia.
Pagunsan sank five birdies against a lone bogey as he stepped up his chase for a second Asian Tour victory. The 39-year-old, Asia’s number one in 2011, needed only 26 putts to move into contention in the tournament which he has finished top-three in 2010 and 2012.
“I’m still in there with a fight. Two more days, let’s see,” said a hopeful Rashid Khan.
“I used to play a 10 finger, baseball type grip. At the Indian Open, I changed it to an overlapping grip after the first round and that didn’t work out at all,” explained Rashid about the upward swing in his fortunes. “I struggled for a while. I didn’t play the Thailand Open as I just focused on going back to my old grip and it’s finally paying off again.”
Did you Know?
- In 36 holes, Chawrasia, who did not play a practice round this week, has dropped only one bogey in round one.
- Chawrasia successfully defended his Hero Indian Open title by seven shots in March which helped move him up to second place on the Merit list with US$304,500.
- Chawrasia finished equal sixth in the Queen’s Cup in 2015. He was also tied eighth at Santiburi Samui in the 2006 Bangkok Airways Open.
- In 2006, Chawrasia was disqualified at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters while in contention after failing to sign for his second round scorecard.
Scores after round 2 of the Queen’s Cup 2017 being played at the par 71, 6,851 Yards Santiburi Samui CC course (am – denotes amateur):
133 – Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 70-63.
134 – Nicholas FUNG (MAS) 66-68.
135 – Juvic PAGUNSAN (PHI) 68-67, Rashid KHAN (IND) 65-70, Angelo QUE (PHI) 65-70, S.S.P CHAWRASIA (IND) 67-68, Prayad MARKSAENG (THA) 65-70, Pasavee LERTVILAI (THA) 69-66.
136 – Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 69-67, Mithun PERERA (SRI) 69-67, Daisuke KATAOKA (JPN) 66-70, Siddikur RAHMAN (BAN) 68-68.
137 – Danthai BOONMA (THA) 68-69, HUNG Chien-yao (TPE) 66-71, Nitithorn THIPPONG (THA) 68-69, Danny CHIA (MAS) 69-68.
138 – Jbe KRUGER (RSA) 70-68, Suradit YONGCHAROENCHAI (THA) 69-69.