Bangkok, January 23: Korea’s Kang Wook-soon maintained his grip on the US$300,000 Areeya Thailand Open as he fired a second round three-under-par 69 to lead by two shots at the halfway stage today.
Kang, who began his campaign with a superb 63 on Thursday, carded four birdies against a lone bogey at the Royal Thai Air Force Club for a two-day total of 12-under-par 132. he is ahead of Thai duo Thaworn Wiratchant and veteran Boonchu Ruangkit.
The 47-year-old Boonchu, one of only two home players to win the Thailand Open in the tournament’s history, carded a fine 66 thanks to seven birdies on the card while Thaworn produced a 68 for a 134 aggregate.
A third Thai, the in-form Prayad Marksaeng who won a local event last week, kept himself in the title chase by matching Boonchu’s 66 and is joint fourth, four strokes off the lead, alongside Korea’s Kim Jong-duk and India’s Uttam Singh Mundy.
Kang, a two time Asian number one with a record seven wins to his credit, produced two chip-in birdies with some superb wedge play. On the fourth, he chipped in from 20 yards and holed another shot from closer range on the 17th hole.
He conceded that Lady Luck was on his side. “I didn’t play really well with my irons. I got a bit lucky with some nice chips,” said Kang. “It’s nice to have a two shot lead.”
Boonchu continued to defy father time with an energized performance where he had five birdies on his back nine. “I am too old to push hard for victory. I hit the ball close and hopefully I can do the same tomorrow.”
Thailand’s upcoming star Prom Meesawat, who is making his professional debut, carded a fine 69 to lie on 139, seven shots off the pace. His father Suthep is the other Thai player to have won the tournament.
The event witnessed a second hole-in-one today. Korea’s Jun Chul-yoo hit an ace at the 189-yard 13th hole and won a car. Yesterday, Taiwan’s Chen Chung-cheng aced the fourth hole but there was no prize on offer on that hole.
A total of 72 players made the halfway cut set at 143. Defending champion Edward Loar carded a 69 for joint 27th place on 140.
Leading second round scores
132 – Kang Wook-Soon (KOR) 63-69
134 – Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 66-68, Boonchu Ruangkit (THA) 68-66
136 – Kim Jong-Duk (KOR) 69-67, Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 70-66, Uttam Singh Mundy (IND) 67-69
137 – Adam Groom (AUS) 65-72, Harmeet Kahlon (IND) 68-69, Jim Johnson (USA) 70-67, Bryan Saltus (USA) 69-68, Paul Spargo (AUS) 67-70, Richard Moir (AUS) 66-71
138 – Yutthaphorn Prongsanthia (THA) 69-69, Mardan Mamat (SIN) 71-67, Craig Kamps (RSA) 70-68, Gary Rusnak (USA) 69-69, Scott Barr (AUS) 69-69, Chawalit Plaphol (THA) 70-68, Dinesh Chand (FIJ) 71-67, Thammanoon Srirot (THA) 69-69
139 – Atthaphon Prathummanee (THA) 69-70, Aung Win (MYN) 69-70, Prom Meesawat (THA) 70-69, Mike Cunning (USA) 69-70, Danny Chia (MAS) 68-71, Yang Yong-eun (KOR) 69-70
140 – Chung Joon (KOR) 71-69, Edward Loar (USA) 71-69, Rick Gibson (CAN) 71-69, Sushi Ishigaki (JPN) 69-71