Barr Takes Pole at Halfway Stage in Thailand Open

Fri 04 Mar 2005

Barr Takes Pole at Halfway Stage in Thailand Open


Phuket, March 4: Australian Scott Barr kept off the bogey trail for a second straight day to lead by one stroke from Jeev Milkha Singh of India at the halfway stage of the Thai Airways International Thailand Open today.


The Singapore-based Barr produced another masterful performance, shooting a four-under-par 68 at Blue Canyon Country Club to lead the US$500,000 Asian Tour event on 11-under-par 133.


Singh, the joint first round leader with Barr with an opening 65, stayed in touch with a second round 69 while the in-form Scott Strange of Australia was a further stroke back following a 67 where he recovered from two early bogeys.


Japanese veteran Gohei Sato and promising Indian Shiv Kapur share fourth place on 138 after carding rounds of 72 and 68 respectively in what is Thailand's 39th national Open.


The 32-year-old Barr, a former teaching pro looking for his maiden Asian Tour triumph, had numerous birdie opportunities after hitting 17 greens in regulation but burnt the edges of most holes. The Aussie drained a 20-footer on the 13th for birdie and converted another 25-foot putt on the 17th. Two more birdies at the fifth and eighth holes left him well pleased with his day's work.


"I'm playing really well and my ball striking has been good. I'm hitting the right yardages and the shots that I want. I had 17 birdie putts out there and I feel like a 60 is within me on this course. I have that good feeling and I'm playing well enough to have a bucketful of birdies," said Barr, who rose to prominence by finishing second to Colin Montgomerie in the 2003 Macau Open.


Apart from his impressive form, Barr was also pleased to make headlines on the island resort, which was hit by the tsunami tragedy last December. Barr was one of the Asian Tour players who mooted the idea of hosting a charity pro-am in Singapore in January which raised over S$60,000 for relief efforts.


"Watching the footages on TV was distressing and I thought it would be good to get together to raise some funds through the Asian Tour. We played in a charity pro-am which raised some money and it was also good for this event to come to Phuket," said Barr.


Singh, looking to end a five-year title drought, overcame a mid-round wobble after turning in 33 with three birdies. He bogeyed the 11th and 13th but recovered strongly with birdies on the 14th and 18th holes. "I had a bad bogey on 11 with a poor bunker shot. I let it go in mid-round but I finished nicely," said the Indian.


Singh led into the final round of last December's Okinawa Open but settled for second best in the season-opener. "I'm not going to think of winning. I used to get ahead of myself and I'm going to stay focussed and play my game and let it happen," he said.


Strange broke through last Sunday for his first win on Tour in Myanmar and continued to show his winning form. He overcame a poor start, dropping shots in two of opening three holes but fought back with seven birdies.  "I was dumbfounded with my start. But I eventually got the ball to roll and played well. It's nice to be up there again," said the Perth-based Strange.


Rookie Kapur ensured a strong Indian presence on the leaderboard with a 68 which left him in tied fourth place, five off the lead. He enjoyed a chip-in eagle at the five 15th hole and birdied three of the par three challenges at the spectacular Canyon Course.


"I hit it good but had three three-putts on my back nine which was disappointing. Five shots back right now is not a bad position as there is still a long way to go," said Kapur, who underlined his growing potential by winning the Asian Games individual gold medal in 2002.


Atthaphon Prathummanee, Prayad Marksaeng, Noppajak Meesom and amateur Chinarat Phadungsil were the best placed Thais in tied 19th position on 142.


The halfway cut was set at three-over-par 147 with 82 players, including local amateurs Anujit Hirunrattanakorn (143) and Tiwat Krobteerano (147) qualifying for the weekend rounds.


Leading second round scores

133 - Scott Barr (AUS) 65-68

134 - Jeev Milkha Singh (IND) 65-69

135 - Scott Strange (AUS) 68-67

138 - Shiv Kapur (IND) 70-68, Gohei Sato (JPN) 66-72

140 - Harmeet Kahlon (IND) 70-70, Richard Lee (NZL) 70-70, Chris Rodgers (ENG) 70-70, Mike Capone (USA) 71-69

141 - Hendrik Buhrmann (RSA) 71-70, Adam Blyth (AUS) 72-69, Seuk Jong-ryul (KOR) 69-72, Richard Moir (AUS) 69-72, P. Gunasegaran (MAS) 70-71, Gerry Norquist (USA) 69-72, Angelo Que (PHI) 71-70, Simon Yates (SCO) 68-73, Larry Austin (AUS) 72-69

142 - Greg Hanrahan (USA) 68-74, Bryan Saltus (USA) 70-72, Gilberto Morales (VEN) 72-70, Chinarat Phadungsil [A] (THA) 70-72, Jason Knutzon (USA) 72-70, Jason Dawes (AUS) 73-69, Lin Keng-chi (TPE) 69-73, Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 72-70, Atthaphon Prathummanee (THA) 74-68, Yoshinobu Tsukada (JPN) 66-76, Koji Katoh (JPN) 73-69, Noppajak Meesom (THA) 67-75, Ron Won (USA) 69-73