Brave Prayad Powers Ahead

Fri 17 Dec 2010

Brave Prayad Powers Ahead

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Hua Hin, December 17: Thai hero Prayad Marksaeng charged into contention at the halfway stage of the US$600,000 Black Mountain Masters on Friday after nearly being forced out of his home event by injuries.
The six-time Asian Tour winner sparkled with a six-under-par 66 in tough conditions at the Black Mountain Golf Club to hold the clubhouse lead on eight-under-par 136 with Japan’s Daisuke Maruyama and American Matthew Rosenfeld.
England’s Simon Griffiths, who like Rosenfeld is fighting for his Tour card in the season finale this week, shot a 71 to stay one shot back heading into the weekend rounds.
The 44-year-old Prayad arrived in his home town with severe pain in his wrists and ankles and was staring at the prospect of having to withdraw from the Black Mountain Masters where he finished second last year.
But after receiving intense physiotherapy, he opened his campaign with a 70 before lighting up the course with an eagle and five birdies in unseasonal overcast and windy conditions this morning.
“This is probably my best round of the year giving the conditions and how I am right now,” said Prayad.
“After Cambodia last week, I had pain in my wrists and ankles but the doctor said it wasn’t gout. I have been going for physiotherapy for two hours daily this week and it has helped a lot.
“There is a bit of pain, especially in the morning but I just try to keep the wrist loose by doing exercises on every hole. Conditions were not easy but my iron play and putting were really good.”
Chasing a first title in two years, Prayad’s cause was helped by a fortunate eagle on the par five 13th hole when his approach found the water hazard guarding the green but skipped over the water onto land. From there, he holed a chip from 50- yards for a three.
“I like the golf course a lot. I have a lot of fans following me so I want to keep playing well as there is good support. I don’t feel good with the pain but I will carry on. If there is no pain, I am confident of winning this weekend,” he said.
“I got lucky with the eagle. Also holed long putts from 45 feet and 30 feet at the 16th and third holes which were good.”
Joint overnight leader Maruyama traded three birdies, all on par fives, against two bogeys to stay in the title hunt. Conditions were tough, so this is a good score,” he said.
“When we started the round in the morning, there were big winds and it was hard. I made bogey early on at the 11th (he started on 10) after hitting my tee shot into the water.
“I just aimed to hit it on the fairway since it was preferred lie today. I took advantage of the par fives as some of them were playing downwind, so I was happy to birdie three of them.
“I saw Prayad shooting six under which is an unbelievable round. Tomorrow is moving day, so I need to be under par again to keep myself in with a chance to win.”
Lying in 76th place on the Order of Merit, Rosenfeld needs at least a top three or four finish to keep his Tour card and he gave himself a chance with a battling display.
“I’m extremely pleased with my round. I need a really good finish to retain my card on the Asian Tour. There’s some pressure for me to perform but sometimes you tend to play better when your back is against the wall,” said the American.
“I started driving my ball a little off the fairway as I was trying to pick up a little bit more distance. I went through a period of time where it was difficult for me to find the fairways but now I’m hitting fairways again.
“I’m trying to stay in my own little groove and hopefully by the end of Sunday, my name is still on top. I don’t mind the conditions either way but it was difficult earlier in the day as the wind was blowing really hard.”