Knutzon continues dominance #PanasonicOPEN

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Noda City, Chiba prefecture, Japan, April 21: American Jason Knutzon continued to take his place atop the leaderboard after signing for a second round two-under-par 69 at the Panasonic OPEN Japan on Friday.

Despite not being able to match his opening 64, Knutzon’s two-day total of nine-under-par 133 was still enough for him to enjoy a two-shot cushion over Thailand’s Panuphol Pittayarat, Philippines’ Juvic Pagunsan, Korea’s Inhoi Hur and Japan’s Yujiro Ohori.

Panuphol also moved into contention for his maiden Asian Tour breakthrough by compiling a 135 at the Chiba Country Club, Umesato course in Noda City, Chiba prefecture.

Juvic PagunsanAlthough he is still grieving over the tragic loss of his girlfriend, the 24-year-old displayed no signs of it but instead showed the consistency that has led him to two top-10s this season.

Philippines’ Juvic Pagunsan, who finished third in Mie prefecture, Kansai last week, is looking forward to better that result after signing for a 67 at the ¥150 million (approximately US$1.37million) event which is the third event to be co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation (JGTO) this year.

The 2011 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion managed to overcome the early chilly conditions to set himself up well for the weekend battle which will feature 61 players with the cut set at even-par.

Did you know?

  • Knutzon’s last win on the Asian Tour dates back to 2007 where he won his second Tour title in Bintan, Indonesia. He won his first title in Macao in 2004.
  • Playing on a tournament invitation this week, Knutzon best result in Japan was a tied-second finish in Ibaraki prefecture in 2014.
  • The key challenge for Knutzon was his attempt to read the tricky greens today. He made 30 putts compared to 25 on the opening day.
  • Panuphol has successfully kept his full Asian Tour card every year since making the grade at Qualifying School in 2011.
  • Holes 7, 14 and 18 continued to be Panuphol’s favourite scoring holes. He has made successive birdies there over the last two rounds.
  • Pagunsan is the first Filipino to win the Asian Tour Order of Merit title in 2011. He has also won once on the Asian Tour in Indonesia but has yet to win in Japan despite coming close on several occasions.
  • While Pagunsan enjoyed an eagle-three on the par-five six in his opening round, he found it tough to repeat that feat as the chilly conditions led him to a bogey-six today. A flawless back-nine highlighted by three birdies would however ensure he remained in the hunt for his first win in Japan.

 ”I believe someone is watching me from above and I hope not to disappoint.” – Panuphol

Players’ Quotes:

Jason Knutzon (Usa) – Second round 69 (-2) Total 133 (-9)

After such a long break, I’m in the heat of everything and I’m really excited now. I’m going to try my best and see what happens. Mentally, I’m fresh. Golf is really a funny game when you play without much expectations.

Juvic Pagunsan (Phi) – Second round 67 (-4) Total 135 (-7)

It was another solid round from me today. I’ve been playing well and carrying my form over from last week where I finished third. It was a little bit cold this morning and I found it hard to strike the ball early on in the round. It’s nice to be in contention and I’m really feeling excited. I know I have a chance this week and I’m on form. So, I’m going to try my best.

Panuphol PittayaratPanuphol Pittayarat (Tha) – Second 68 (-3), Total 135 (-7)

I’ve been playing really solid golf the last two days. I’ve been keeping the ball in play and making less mistakes. I’ve been feeling really good on the golf course and I’ve been very consistent with my ball striking since the start of the year. I went through a slight mental breakdown recently but I’ve fought back and I’m keeping up well. I believe someone is watching me from above and I hope not to disappoint.

Arjun Atwal (Tha) – Second round 69 (-2), Total 138 (-4)

The last two days have been great considering I haven’t played since the Indian Open. I was a little rusty but I managed to score well. I like the fact that you get to hit a variety of shots off the tee over here. It’s a little bit of an old school layout and I like that. The greens are tricky and I like the whole combination. I worked a little bit on my game during the last four weeks but not that much. We’ll see after tomorrow. If I can shoot a really low score that can get me into the hunt tomorrow, then it’ll be interesting to see what happens next on Sunday.

Leading scores after round 2 of the Panasonic Open Golf Championship being played at the par 71, 7130 Yards Chiba CC course (am – denotes amateur):

133 – Jason KNUTZON (USA) 64-69.

135 – Juvic PAGUNSAN (PHI) 68-67, Inhoi HUR (KOR) 67-68, Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 67-68, Yujiro OHORI (JPN) 70-65.

137 – Hiroshi IWATA (JPN) 67-70, Satoshi KODAIRA (JPN) 66-71, K.T. KIM (KOR) 70-67, Katsumasa MIYAMOTO (JPN) 69-68, Prayad MARKSAENG (THA) 68-69.

138 – Seunghyuk KIM (KOR) 68-70, Udorn DUANGDECHA (THA) 66-72, Hyungsung KIM (KOR) 67-71, Yoshinori FUJIMOTO (JPN) 70-68, Arjun ATWAL (IND) 69-69, Mingyu CHO (KOR) 71-67, Shinichi YOKOTA (JPN) 71-67, Wonjoon LEE (AUS) 71-67, Junggon HWANG (KOR) 69-69, Byungmin CHO (KOR) 68-70.

139 – Kyungnam KANG (KOR) 68-71, Sungjae IM (KOR) 71-68.

140 – Kenichi KUBOYA (JPN) 69-71, Rikuya HOSHINO (JPN) 71-69, Shugo IMAHIRA (JPN) 70-70, Ryuko TOKIMATSU (JPN) 71-69, Lionel WEBER (FRA) 68-72, Jinichiro KOZUMA (JPN) 69-71, Sanghyun PARK (KOR) 71-69, Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA) 70-70, I.J. JANG (KOR) 69-71.

141 – Kodai ICHIHARA (JPN) 71-70, Adam BLAND (AUS) 74-67, Brendan JONES (AUS) 69-72, Kazuhiro YAMASHITA (JPN) 69-72, Terry PILKADARIS (AUS) 69-72, Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 72-69, Shingo KATAYAMA (JPN) 71-70, Javi COLOMO (ESP) 71-70, Casey O’TOOLE (USA) 72-69, LIANG Wen-chong (CHN) 72-69, Junwon PARK (KOR) 73-68, Keiichiro FUKABORI (JPN) 72-69, Antonio LASCUNA (PHI) 72-69, Mikumu HORIKAWA (JPN) 73-68.

About Asian Tour

As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include ECCO (Official Footwear Sponsor), FENIX XCell (Official Apparel Supplier), Titleist (Official Web Partner), Bloomberg TV (Official International Media Partner), Bloomberg Businessweek Chinese (Official International Media Partner) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). Sentosa, Singapore is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has an office in Kuala Lumpur.

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