Pucay Closes in on Rai

Sat 24 Oct 2009

Pucay Closes in on Rai


Johor Bahru, Malaysia, October 24: Mars Pucay of the Philippines will be aiming for a title assault after closing in on Indian leader Himmat Rai when he posted a superb second round seven-under-par 65 at the US$1 million Iskandar Johor Open on Saturday.

Rai, who had finished his second round on Friday, continues to hold on to his lead with his two-day total of 13-under-par 131 at the Royal Johor Country Club.

The full field Asian Tour tournament heads into the third and final round on Sunday after inclement weather forced officials to reduce the event to a 54-hole stroke play tournament.

Asian Tour honorary member K.J. Choi of Korea and Australia’s Darren Beck held on to their tied second positions on 132 while Chinese Taipei’s Chang Tse-peng is also among the mix in fourth position on 133.

Pucay, aiming for his maiden Asian Tour win, closed in on Rai when he added a 65 to his opening 69 to lie in tied fifth position alongside Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat on 134.

Starting from the back nine, Pucay opened his campaign with three consecutive birdies starting from the 11th hole. He continued his surge up the leaderboard when his chip from 20 feet found the hole for birdie on 16. He added another birdie on 18 to make the turn in 31.

Pucay kept up with his impressive form and fired another three birdies on two, three and four before dropping a shot on the fifth hole.

“My chipping and approach shots really helped with my game. The course was a bit softer after the rain yesterday and it made it easier to attack the green even when my ball was in the rough,” said the 39-year-old.

Pucay, who has come close to winning on the Asian Tour on several occasions, is determined to make a title charge tomorrow.

“I have been knocking on the door for so many times so hopefully I can hit my big first. I am hitting the ball and putting well so I feel that I have a huge chance for a crack at the title,” said Pucay.

Three-time Asian Tour winner Chinnarat Phadungsil of Thailand and Korea’s Noh Seung-yul also kept their title hopes alive when they closed with a 69 and 68 respectively to lie in tied ninth position on 137.

Chinnarat credited his round to his good tee shots as he found nine fairways but rued two missed opportunities when he failed to hole two three-feet putts for birdies on holes 14 and 15.

“My tee shots gave me a chance for a good round but that two missed birdies really cost me. I feel that I still have a chance at chasing the leader but I need to keep to my game plan of finding more fairways and hitting it close to the hole,” said the 20-year-old.

Meanwhile teen sensation Noh was delighted to stay on track for his second Asian Tour win after firing two chip-ins on holes seven and 10 from 10 yards.

“I am feeling confident with my tee shots but my iron shots were quite a let down. Anything can happen tomorrow so I am going to give it my best,” said Noh.

Defending champion Retief Goosen of South Africa failed to make an impact and conceded that he was out of the title race after shooting a second round 70 to lie in tied 22nd on 139.


“I think I am pretty much out of the tournament and have no chance of winning especially with the way I am playing. I will go out there tomorrow and play my best and try to improve my finish,” said Goosen.

“I have been struggling and hitting the ball poorly and not getting myself into position to score. That has cost me this week,” added the South African.

The cut for the third and final round was set at two-under with a total of 67 players making the final round.

The Iskandar Johor Open, celebrating its third edition and offering a record prize fund this year, is sanctioned by the Asian Tour, Johor Golf Association and Malaysian Golf Association.

The main sponsor of the Iskandar Johor Open is the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA). It is also supported by platinum sponsor - UEM Land Berhad, the master developer of Nusajaya which is a key driver of Iskandar Malaysia. Other co-sponsors include Iskandar Waterfront Development and UM Land. Official partners are TaylorMade Adidas Golf, 100 Plus, Srixon, Winston Wine, Dewars, Ricoh and the Puteri Pacific Hotel.

News and updates on the tournament will be available on the official IJO website www.iskandarjohoropen.com.

Leading round two scores

131 - Himmat Rai (IND) 64-67

132 - K.J. Choi (KOR) 68-64, Darren Beck (AUS) 68-64

133 - Chang Tse-peng (TPE) 65-68

134 - Chapchai Nirat (THA) 69-65, Mars Pucay (PHI) 69-65

135 - Kodai Ichihara (JPN) 66-69

136 - Rahil Gangjee (IND) 69-67

137 - Chan Yih-shin (TPE) 65-72, Panuwat Muenlek (THA) 67-70, Chinnarat Phadungsil (THA) 68-69, Noh Seung-Yul (KOR) 69-68, Jason Norris (AUS) 72-65

138 - Lin Wen-tang (TPE) 67-71, Sattaya Supupramai (THA) 69-69, Chris Rodgers (ENG) 70-68, Anirban Lahiri (IND) 69-69, Lin Wen-hong (TPE) 69-69, Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) 69-69, Juvic Pagunsan (PHI) 70-68

About the Asian Tour

As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia.  This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include ESPN Star Sports (Official Regional TV Broadcaster), Pin High (Official Apparel Partner), Ricoh (Official Office Solutions Provider) and Srixon (Official Ball). Sentosa, Singapore’s premier island resort getaway, is the Home of the Asian Tour.