Kiradech battles into tied eighth #TheMasters

Sat 09 Apr 2016

Kiradech battles into tied eighth #TheMasters

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By V. Krishnaswamy in Augusta
Augusta, Georgia, April 8: Thai star Kiradech Aphibarnrat battled his way into contention at the halfway stage of the Masters Tournament on Friday as he led an Asian Tour trio into the weekend rounds.
Big-hitting Kiradech, who is making his Masters debut, brilliantly battled his way into a second straight level par 72 at Augusta National Golf Club which put him in tied eighth position with a 144 total, just four shots behind leader and defending champion Jordan Spieth.
Thongchai Jaidee. Photo Credit: Augusta National Thongchai Jaidee. Photo Credit: Augusta National
Compatriot Thongchai Jaidee shot a second round 76 in the 80th staging of the Masters for a share of 42nd position while reigning Asian Tour number one Anirban Lahiri of India shot a 73 to lie a further stroke back in tied 47th place.
Jordan Spieth, who at one stage went to eight-under with two early birdies, finished with 74 but still led by one from Rory McIlroy (70-71).
The 26-year-old Kiradech, the Asian Tour number one in 2013, was the pick of the Asian threesome with a round that included three birdies against as many bogeys. Such has been his fine debut that the Thai was featured as one of the main stories on the tournament's official website, masters.com. Read story on http://tinyurl.com/h92llrs
Later in the afternoon, Lahiri, once again struggled as he was caught in early windy conditions towards the end of his round to finish with 73 after being two-under through 12 holes.
Thongchai flirted with the cut line and went to as much as six-over through 12 holes, before birdies on 14 and 18 brightened his day and ensured himself a third straight weekend outing at Augusta National.
Kiradech handled the tough golf course and treacherous windy conditions well on the front nine. He birdied the second and eighth holes, both par-fives, but dropped shots on the fourth and fifth.
WGC - HSBC Champions: Day TwoOn the back nine, he picked up his third birdie of the day, again on a par-five at the 15th hole. He is now five-under for the par-fives after two rounds.
Kiradech said: “I was happy with the way I finished, and made the cut. It’s been a tough golf course.  If you've never been here you can't imagine how tough it is with the greens and the slope and the wind picking up.  Even par is good.”
Speaking of the interest it will elicit in Thailand, he added: “It’s really important for us, a lot of fans will be watching right now. It's 12 hours difference and it will be like 1 or 2 in the morning and I'm sure that maybe most of the golfers will keep awake and be watching us.  I'm just trying to play well for them and make the golf more fun the next two rounds.”
Lahiri, who dropped four shots in two holes – 16th and 17th – on the first day during his 76, had a great start on Friday, but once again endured a rough finish. With conditions calmer in the morning, he birdied the sixth, holing a 14-foot putt. On the fifth, he snared an even longer putt from 23 feet to go to two-under, as the winds started picking up.
A bogey on the fifth when he failed to get to the green in regulation saw him drop back. A great drive followed by a superb approach on 11 set him up for a five-foot birdie, which he duly nailed. But for the second day running, he struggled at the finish with bogeys on 13th, 15th and 17th to finish at 73 and five-over for the tournament.
“I don’t think I did much wrong. Things just didn’t go my way. On the 13th approach I caught the gust and it went over, and on the 15th, I played for the wind, but it went through and over. In both cases I ended with bogeys. I just didn’t score on the par-fives, it is something that I need to work on,” said the Indian.
He added, “I putted better on the front nine, than the back nine. On 16 and 17 I missed something like eight-footers. I have not played badly, but I have been able to score better, missing all those eight to 10 footers. Still with the wind blowing I think the scoring is going to be tough, so let’s if five-over makes it. I really want to stay on.”