Pagunsan Leads Prayad by One in Singha Thai PGA Championship

Fri 27 Jun 2008

Pagunsan Leads Prayad by One in Singha Thai PGA Championship

Chiang Rai, Thailand, June 27: Juvic Pagunsan fired a blistering nine-under-par 63 to snatch a one-shot lead from local hero Prayad Marksaeng at the halfway stage of the Singha Thailand PGA Championship presented by Sports Authority of Thailand on Friday.
The talented Filipino sank 10 birdies, including a stunning run of seven in a row, at Santiburi Country Club Chiang Rai to place a firm grip on the US$300,000 Asian Tour event with his 13-under-par 131 total, which tied the lowest 36-hole score this season.

In-form Prayad maintained his hopes of a third victory this month with an equally impressive 65, highlighted by a chip-in eagle while Korea's Mo Joong-kyung charged into contention with a bogey-free 64 for a 133 aggregate.

The sheer brilliance of the top three players left the field trailing in their wake, with India's Arjun Singh, Chang Tse-peng of Chinese Taipei, Singapore-based Australian Unho Park and American Han Lee lying a distant fourth on 137, six shots behind Pagunsan.

"That was a very special round," beamed the 30-year-old Pagunsan, who claimed his maiden Asian Tour victory at the Pertamina Indonesian President Invitational last season.

"I hit it real good and putted very well. It's the first time I've shot seven straight birdies in my career and a first ever nine-hole score of 29. I was in a zone and focussed hard on each shot."

Starting his day from the 10th hole, Pagunsan's game caught fire at the 18th hole where he collected his third birdie of the day to add to two earlier birdies and a lone bogey.

He nailed six more birds on the trot after making the turn and narrowly missed equalling the Asian Tour's consecutive birdie record of eight-in-a-row, held by Prayad and Craig Spence, at the par three seventh hole when his 25-foot attempt slid wide. A 12-foot conversion on the eighth hole saw Pagunsan complete a superb inward 29.

Pagunsan's rise earned him the chance to exact revenge on Prayad, who beat him at last December's Volvo Masters of Asia in Bangkok. "Thailand is a good place for me and I always feel comfortable here," said the smiling Filipino, who owns one of the most graceful swings on the Tour.

"I threw away a four-shot lead at the Volvo Masters and I can only learn from my mistakes. I lost concentration on the front nine then and I have learnt to focus on my own game. I won't say I'm comfortable being in the lead as there are so many good players around."

Prayad, who won twice in Japan this month, brilliantly holed a 15-yard chip-in eagle at the par five 13th to stay hot on Pagunsan's heels after a round that included six other birdies. "I'm in position to win again on a course which I'm familiar with," said the 41-year-old, a six-time winner on the Asian Tour.

"Juvic obviously played well. When I went out for my round in the afternoon, I didn't let his 63 affect my game. I've got more experience (than him) being in contention and it'll be good to be in the last group with Juvic as I'll be able to see what he does," said Prayad.
Mo, 36, wielded a hot putter as he rolled in eight birdies for an unblemished card. "My putter worked pretty good as I holed out everything from inside 15 feet," said Mo, whose lone victory in Asia dates back to 1996.
"It's a tough course but if you can hit fairways, you have a chance to score, which was what I did today. I have missed only a couple of fairways in the last two rounds and that's helped. It's been a long time since I won in Asia but I had a couple of chances in Korea this year. I blew those chances but I think I was just trying too hard to make something spectacular happen which you can't. I've learned that."

Chang, who carded a 69, is searching for a career breakthrough but is counting on his putter to strike it hot for a weekend charge. "On the front nine, I hit all greens in regulation but kept making two putts for pars. I kept shaving the holes," he lamented.
India's Singh has not featured on the leaderboard in Asia for a while and he was delighted to have the chance to challenge for the title. "I'm feeling good, feeling comfortable with my swing. I still get on and off days but it's getting better," said Singh, who had five birdies and one double bogey for a 69.
"I had one tournament win in India in March and several top 10s, so it's been good. It's good to be playing fairly well again. I've not held a full exemption since 2005 but I don't find it frustrating. It's something that has happened and I've got to take it in my stride and get it back," he said.
The halfway cut was set at 145 with 69 players progressing into the weekend rounds.
Leading second round scores
131 - Juvic Pagunsan (PHI) 68-63
132 - Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 67-65
133 - Mo Joong-kyung (KOR) 69-64

137 - Chang Tse-peng (TPE) 68-69, Unho Park (AUS) 67-70, Han Lee (USA) 68-69, Arjun Singh (IND) 68-69

138 - Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 70-68, Thammanoon Srirot (THA) 68-70, Lien Lu-sen (TPE) 67-71
139 - Yasin Ali (ENG) 71-68, Wisut Artjanawat (THA) 68-71, Chinnarat Phadungsil (THA) 68-71, Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) 68-71, Ben Leong (MAS) 69-70
140 - Chawalit Plaphol (THA) 69-71, Adam Groom (AUS) 71-69, Antonio Lascuna (PHI) 72-68, Prom Meesawat (THA) 70-70, Lu Wei-chih (TPE) 70-70, Sirapong Maitreeyeunyong (THA) 71-69, David Gleeson (AUS) 68-72, Terry Pilkadaris (AUS) 67-73, Kevin Chun (NZL) 72-68
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