Chapchai tops leaderboard after Friday #SingOpen2018

Fri 19 Jan 2018

Chapchai tops leaderboard after Friday #SingOpen2018


Sentosa, Singapore, January 19: Chapchai Nirat of Thailand rolled back the years and carded a blistering seven-under-par 64 and a seven-under-par 135 total to capture the clubhouse lead of the SMBC Singapore Open on Friday. 

Longtime fans of Singapore’s National Open will remember his many exploits on the Serapong course. In 2012, he surged to the top of the leaderboard after round one before settling for a tied-seventh finish.

This year, the burley 34-year-old did not put a foot wrong in round two as he fired seven birdies to lead by one shot over Tirawat Kaewsiribandit of Thailand and Shaun Norris of South Africa.

Tirawat stayed in the hunt after carding a second-round 70. The Thai golfer maintained his good form after an opening 66 and started steadily with 10 straight pars. He scored a bogey and two birdies before ending his round. 

Norris is experiencing a happy homecoming so far after spending a year away from the Asian Tour by carding a 67 on Friday. He enjoyed a bogey-free round that is highlighted by an eagle on the fourth and birdies on the second and 14th.

Shiv Kapur of India brought his brilliant 2017 form to Singapore. The 35-year-old shot a 67 to go into the weekend just two shots off the lead. He performed brilliantly on his opening nine (10th to 18th) as the made the turn at five-under-par, but admittedly, he has yet to figure out how to score consistently at Serapong’s first nine holes.

Jarin Todd of United States joins Kapur at tied-third. Nine golfers, which includes major winner Louis Oosthuizen, are a shot behind Kapur and Todd at four-under-par.

Choo Tze Huang is Singapore’s best finisher on Friday. He is currently three-under-par.

Round two play was abandoned at 4.42pm local time due to lightning threats. 78 players will resume their rounds at 7.40am local time on Saturday, with round three starting no later than 12.50pm.

Did you know:

  • Chapchai Nirat holds the Asian Tour record for the lowest 72-hole score. He finished the 2009 SAIL Open 32-under-par 256. Also, his 11-shot winning margin shares the record for third highest on the Asian Tour.
  • He had a phenomenal run on the Asian Tour. Chapchai has never lost his playing card from 2005 to 2016 and he has earned at least US$100,000 every season. He enjoyed his best year in 2007, when he earned US$442,325.
  • Chapchai has a pretty good record at the Singapore Open. His best results were tied-seventh in 2008 and 2012. Out of the 10 Singapore Open tournaments he competed in, he only missed the cut twice.
  • Tirawat Kaewsiribandit ended 2017 ranked 316th on the Official World Golf Ranking list.
  • 2017 marked the first time he was placed within the top-60 of the Asian Tour Order of Merit. He earned US$118,481 and was ranked 36th.
  • Shaun Norris is a two-time winner on the Asian Tour. He won the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship in 2015 and the Leopalace21 Myanmar Open in 2016.
  • He will be participating in The Open this year by virtue of his tied-third finish at last year’s Joburg Open. It will be his second consecutive appearance at the major tournament.
  • Shiv Kapur enjoyed moderate success at previous editions of the SMBC Singapore Open. He has always made the cut, but he finished tied-64th and tied-51st in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
  • He overcame the disappointment of missing the cut at three consecutive tournaments by winning his first Asian Tour title in 11 years in Chinese Taipei, at the Yeangder Heritage.

Player Interviews:

Chapchai Nirat (Tha) - Second Round 64 (-7), Total 135 (-7) 

To finish the round seven-under-par was beyond my expectation. Before coming to this tournament, I tried to adjust and fix my swing flaws with my coach. Today, I was attempting to play the same way as I did during practice and follow my coach's advice.

For this tournament, I didn’t think too much and I didn't set any target. I'm just enjoying the experience and trying to get used to my new golf swing as well as getting a better swing rhythm.

I am so happy and excited to be on top of the leaderboard. I haven’t felt this way on the golf course for so long, at least three years. For the next two day, I will do the same as I did today and don’t think much about the result.

Tirawat Kaewsiribandit - Second Round 70 (-1), Total 136 (-6)

Overall I am happy with the way I play today. I hit 12 fairways and 15 greens, but at some holes, the ball did not land close to the pin.  I only managed to get two birdies today, but it was my plan to play like this, not too aggressive.

My highlight was the par-four hole 13th. It is a tough hole and I made long birdie putt, about 20 feet, and that is the changing point of the day. After that I played with more confidence.

My plan in the next two rounds is to try to finish each round with at least two-under-par.

Shaun Norris (Rsa) - Second Round 67 (-4), Total 136 (-6)

I’ve reached my goals and I’m happy with where I am. I think I’m in a good position. It’s always nice to be back and see all your peers whom you’ve travelled with after so long. I’ve been busier with the Japan Tour in the past couple of years, and it’s nice to see everybody and have a bit of fun.

We always think it’s (the winning score at the tournament) going to be a lot lower than what it is, I think it can get to about 14-under-par, but we’ll see what happens.

Shiv Kapur (Ind) - Second Round 67 (-4), Total 137 (-5)

Starting the day, I was even-par and I had a hole and a half to play. I birdied 18th to shoot one-under this morning. Then, I came out playing really good. Five-under-par on the back nine, but I lost my way in the front, my back nine. It's a tough course and there is no let up here. You hit one or two bad shots and it gets you.

Three-putting at the last hole left a sour taste in my mouth. Small margins here, but I played pretty well.

I bogeyed the fifth hole two days in a row. I'll try to figure out how to play that hole a bit better. I haven't birdied four as well. I'll get my head around that stretch (fourth, fifth and sixth) of holes. I seemed to have a good game plan for the back nine. I'm hitting more three-woods there. That's working well and I'm not going to change that.

I love this golf course. I've been coming here since I started my career in 2005. I've seen it change but it's still hard. The greens are bigger and it's hard to get the ball close. It tests every part of your game. You have to be straight off the tee the second shots are demanding. The greens are quick and sloppy. It's always going to be a tough challenge here.

Scores after round 2 of the SMBC Singapore Open being played at the par 71, 7398 Yards Sentosa GC course (am - denotes amateur):

135 - Chapchai NIRAT (THA) 71-64.

136 - Tirawat KAEWSIRIBANDIT (THA) 66-70, Shaun NORRIS (RSA) 69-67.

137 - Shiv KAPUR (IND) 70-67, Jarin TODD (USA) 71-66.

138 - Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 66-72, Cameron DAVIS (AUS) 68-70, Louis OOSTHUIZEN (RSA) 66-72, Eric SUGIMOTO (JPN) 70-68, Satoshi KODAIRA (JPN) 66-72, Lucas HERBERT (AUS) 68-70, Richard T. LEE (CAN) 68-70, ANDY ZHANG (am, CHN) 72-66, Toshinori MUTO (JPN) 69-69.

139 - CHOO Tze Huang (SIN) 70-69, Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA) 71-68, Poom SAKSANSIN (THA) 70-69.

140 - Arjun ATWAL (IND) 73-67, Yoshinori FUJIMOTO (JPN) 68-72, Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA) 70-70, Jesse YAP (am, SIN) 68-72, Shunya TAKEYASU (JPN) 69-71.


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