30 September 2022: India’s Rashid Khan opened up a healthy four-shot lead after round two of the US$1 million Mercuries Taiwan Masters today after firing a masterful seven-under-par 65. Honey Baisoya shot 69, and is sitting eight strokes off the pace, as the next best Indian in the pack.
He leads on 12 under from Chinese-Taipei’s Chan Shih-chang (68) and Wang Wei-hsiang (70), the defending champion and first-round leader, and Nitithorn Thippong from Thailand (69), who are all in second position.
A trio of Thai golfers, Danthai Boonma (66), Pavit Tangkamolprasert (69) and Donlaphatchai Niyomchon (71) are two shots further back, at Taiwan Golf and Country Club – in what is Chinese-Taipei’s richest golf tournament.
Khan, whose two victories on the Asian Tour came back in 2014, has been a regular contender this year and looks hungry to transfer form into silverware this week after a bogey free round with four birdies on the front, and three on the back.
“It was pretty good, it was stress free,” said the 31 year old, who began his round on 10.
“I really enjoyed it. I was hitting the ball well and even rolling the putts really well. So just keeping myself on the green, give yourself a lot of chances and that’s what I did. I only missed like two greens, I’ll say, the 10th where I started, and the last hole, but a really good par on the last.”
On that final hole, the ninth, he just missed out of bounds with his tee shot, chipped out leaving himself an approach from 140 yards from where he hit his third to 25 feet and courageously holed the putt to complete a brilliant round.
He added: “I played well here last time also, I finished fifth [in 2019]. I know that a lot of things are required at this golf course, especially if you miss the green, the ups and downs are not easy. So, I’m just gonna hit the greens and you know, give myself chances.”
His round was two shots short of the course record set by Chinese-Taipei’s Lin Wen-hong in 2008.
Nitithorn, the highest ranked player in the field sitting in third on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, put himself in perfect position to attempt to win for the third time this year.
He said: “I had a really great round today. I think I missed only three greens today, same as yesterday. Just like keep playing and a lot of positive things today.”
The rising star, who won The DGC Open presented by Mastercard in March and the International Series Singapore in August, eagled the par-five ninth after drilling his second into nine feet and holing the putt. He moved further up the leaderboard with birdies on 13 and 14 before dropping his only shot of the day on 15.
“I have been playing really good on the first day, but the last three days, like before this tournament, I don’t know just some of the days my mentality was not so good. It’s not the pressure, but I play too comfortable and like too confident. So, this week, I just tried to really focus on my game and my process,” he added.
Wang shot a 66 yesterday to make the ideal start to his title defence but endured a rocky front nine mixing three birdies with three bogeys before he steadied the ship with a two under par back nine thanks to birdies on 15 and 16.
“The pin positions were tricky today,” said Wang, whose brother Wang Wei-hsuan claimed the title in 2020.
“Overall, it’s still ok. Still in a good position for the weekend. Will keep to the same strategy and see how it goes. Not thinking too much about it. Just go out and play. The conditions out there are pretty much the same as yesterday. Wind direction was hard to gauge. Just had one bad hole on the sixth where I lost my ball. But overall, it’s alright.”
Thailand’s Suradit Yongcharoenchai, the winner here in 2019 when the event was last played on the Asian Tour, carded a 71 and is further shot back with Bangladesh’s Siddikur Rahman (69) and Filipino Miguel Tabuena (70).
Ratchanon “TK” Chantananuwat, Thailand’s 15-year-old amateur star, returned a 73 to end the day one under and sit in a tie for 27th.
132 – Rashid Khan (IND) 67-65.
136 – Wang Wei-hsiang (TPE) 66-70, Nitithorn Thippong (THA) 67-69, Chan Shih-chang (TPE) 68-68.
138 – Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA) 69-69, Danthai Boonma (THA) 72-66, Donlaphatchai Niyomchon (THA) 67-71.
139 – Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA) 68-71, Siddikur Rahman (BAN) 70-69, Miguel Tabuena (PHI) 69-70.
140 – Scott Strange (AUS) 68-72, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit (THA) 73-67, Bjorn Hellgren (SWE) 72-68, Yeh Yu-chen (TPE) 70-70, Sarit Suwannarut (THA) 67-73, Honey Baisoya (IND) 71-69.
141 – Kevin Yuan (AUS) 71-70, Huang Chi (TPE) 74-67, Shiv Kapur (IND) 68-73, Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND) 73-68, Rahil Gangjee (IND) 70-71, Veer Ahlawat (IND) 69-72.
142 – Hung Chien-yao (TPE) 67-75, Daniel Fox (AUS) 68-74, Khalin Joshi (IND) 73-69, S.S.P. Chawrasia (IND) 71-71, Benjamin Follett-Smith (ZIM) 68-74.
143 – Pawin Ingkhapradit (THA) 73-70, Huang Kuan-hsun (TPE) 70-73, Ratchanon Chantananuwat (am, THA) 70-73.
144 – Ian Snyman (RSA) 73-71, Berry Henson (USA) 71-73, Adilson Da Silva (BRA) 73-71, S. Chikkarangappa (IND) 70-74, Justin Quiban (PHI) 71-73, Kevin Phelan (IRL) 71-73, Udayan Mane (IND) 70-74, Chang Wei-lun (TPE) 72-72, Poom Saksansin (THA) 71-73, Sattaya Supupramai (THA) 71-73, Sam Brazel (AUS) 71-73.
145 – Mathiam Keyser (RSA) 74-71, Viraj Madappa (IND) 73-72, Hsieh Chi-hsien (TPE) 73-72, Poom Pattaropong (THA) 74-71, Atiruj Winaicharoenchai (THA) 69-76, Aman Raj (IND) 73-72, Nicholas Fung (MAS) 72-73, Keith Horne (RSA) 73-72, Lin K.P. (TPE) 71-74.
146 – Ho Yu-cheng (TPE) 73-73, Hsieh Tung-hung (TPE) 74-72, Wang Tsung-chieh (TPE) 72-74, Panuphol Pittayarat (THA) 75-71, Kosuke Hamamoto (THA) 71-75, Lu Chien-soon (TPE) 74-72, M Dharma (IND) 71-75, Jake Higginbottom (AUS) 76-70, Jack Harrison (ENG) 73-73.