Kuala Lumpur, February 4: Thailand’s Namchok Tantipokhakul battled into a share of the halfway lead with local prospect Kemarol Baharin and American Shane Smith at the PGM UMW Championship on Thursday.
The power-packed Thai, who claimed a breakthrough Asian Development Tour (ADT) victory in Sabah last month, fired a six-under-par 66 at the Templer Park Country Club to join Kemarol and Smith atop the leaderboard on eight-under-par 136 total.
Kemarol, 30, shot a bogey-free 68 while 26-year-old Smith was one shot better after sinking seven birdies against two bogeys at the RM200,000 (approximately US$46,600) ADT event.
Freshman Shunya Takeyasu of Japan produced the day’s lowest score of 65 to sit one shot back in fourth place alongside Sweden’s Oskar Arvidsson (67), American Paul Harris (66) and Jose Rolz (68) of Guatemala in what is the third stop of the ADT schedule this season.
Thailand’s Panuwat Muenlek carded a 70 to share eighth place with American duo Samuel Chien (69) and Baxter Reeves (70) on 138 while overnight leader Doohwan Bang of Korea slipped to tied-11th place with American Nicolas Paez following a 70.
Namchok credited his solid iron-play and his hot putter for a commendable round which saw him sank a 25-footer for birdie on par-three second hole.
“My iron-play was good and I putted nicely today. Winning in Sabah last month was a great boost of confidence but nothing has really changed since. I just want to enjoy my game. I am looking forward to the next two rounds,” said the 28-year-old Thai.
Kemarol, who enjoyed a seventh place finish in Sabah last month, is delighted to put himself in good position as he kept up his chase for a maiden victory on the region’s burgeoning Tour.
“I kept it pretty much the same. I hit the ball good and I putted well too. I sank in from one pin away for all my birdies today. I played with Namchok and he putted really well. I just hope to continue my good form for the next two rounds and we will see how it goes,” said the 30-year-old Malaysian.
Rolz, who became the first Guatemalan to earn an Asian Tour card after finishing inside top-40 at the Qualifying School last month, was not overawed as he seeks to cap a memorable week in what was his first trip to Malaysia.
“I hit the ball really well these two days, especially with my driver. I hit it long and straight which was nice. It was pretty calm out there. I managed to hit it close and avoided making mistakes today,” said Rolz, who marked his card with five birdies against a lone bogey.
“This is my first time in Malaysia and I’m enjoying it so far. The course is beautiful. There are some great sceneries out there and it’s probably one of the most beautiful courses I’ve seen in Asia so far. I should be able to stay up there if I can sink some putts tomorrow,” added the 24-year-old Rolz.
The halfway cut was set at one-over-par 145 with a total of 54 players progressing into the final two rounds.
With the Olympic Games looming this July where golf will be reintroduced as a medal sport, players in the region could earn their spots in Rio de Janeiro by earning Official World Golf Ranking points through the Asian Tour and ADT.
For more information on the ADT, please visit www.asiandevelopmenttour.com
Leading second round results:
136 - Namchok TANTIPOKHAKUL (THA) 70 66, Kemarol BAHARIN (MAS) 68 68, Shane SMITH (USA) 69 67
137 - Oskar ARVIDSSON (SWE) 70 67, Paul HARRIS (USA) 71 66, Jose ROLZ (GTM) 69 68, Shunya TAKEYASU (JPN) 72 65
138 - Panuwat MUENLEK (THA) 68 70, Baxter REEVES (USA) 68 70, Samuel CHIEN (USA) 69 69
139 - Nicolas PAEZ (USA) 69 70, Doohwan BANG (KOR) 67 72
140 - John CATLIN (USA) 70 70, Nick SHERWOOD (USA) 72 68, Pannakorn UTHAIPAS (THA) 71 69
141 - Ekthumrong LUANGANURUK (THA) 72 69, Tawit POLTHAI (THA) 72 69, Greg MOSS (USA) 72 69, Jay BAYRON (PHI) 69 72, Soonsang HONG (KOR) 70 71, Simon GRIFFITHS (ENG) 68 73
142 - Janne KASKE (FIN) 70 72, Nirun SAE-UENG (THA) 70 72, Sorachut HANSAPIBAN (THA) 69 73, R. Nachimuthu (MAS) 72 70, Johannes VEERMAN (USA) 70 72, Scott VINCENT (ZIM) 71 71
About the Asian Development Tour
The Asian Development Tour was launched in 2010 with the aim of creating a career pathway for professional golfers in Asia. Sanctioned by the Asian Tour, the Asian Development Tour will ultimately create a new playing platform for emerging stars from across Asia and around the world. Through the Asian Tour Qualifying School, players will qualify for the Asian Development Tour and enjoy the opportunity to hone their games and talent through a secondary circuit in Asia. Designed in the same structure as the Web.com Tour in America and European Challenge Tour, the Asian Development Tour is a stepping stone to the Asian Tour and the exciting world of international golf. The Asian Development Tour has been structured to ensure the best opportunities for its members. The leading five players on the Asian Development Tour will earn coveted Asian Tour cards for the following season, ensuring a proper career pathway for aspiring professionals. All ADT events receive Official World Golf Ranking points.