Surprise! Baek Leads in India

Fri 03 Dec 2010

Surprise! Baek Leads in India

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New Delhi, December 3: Korean youngster Baek Seuk-hyun and England’s Simon Griffiths shared the halfway lead at the US$1.25 million Hero Honda Indian Open on Friday to give themselves a shot of winning a maiden Asian Tour title.
The 20-year-old Baek, who has lived in Thailand for the past eight years, stunned even his father with a second round two-under-par 70 to tie Griffiths, who fired a superb 67, on six-under-par 138 at the Delhi Golf Club.
A shot back was India’s surprise package Manav Jaini (69), American duo Anthony Kang (67) and rookie Ben Fox (69) and Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg (69), who is chasing a second victory of the year at the fabled Delhi venue.
Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Namchok Tantipokakul returned a 70 and 72 respectively to be two off the pace while Ajun Atwal, the first Indian to win on the PGA Tour, moved ominously up the leaderboard with a 69, four back in the Hero Honda Indian Open, the joint richest full field event on the Asian Tour.
“My dad called me and he was so surprised that I played really good. When we played here early this year, I played so bad. He’s really happy. I’m happy,” said Baek, who turned professional two years ago.
On the advice of his caddie, Baek has kept his driver in his hotel room to negotiate the tight and challenging Delhi layout and he has expertly played his way into contention despite his inexperience. He shot four birdies against two bogeys and was excited to be leading.
“There are many good players. I need to concentrate hard tomorrow. It’s only the second day. My caddie has helped me a lot. He said earlier this week “no driver”. It’s my first time leading a big tournament. I dream of winning a big tournament every day and this time, it’s a chance for me and I hope to take it,” added the Korean, who has won three local Thai events in his young career.
Griffiths, fighting for his Asian Tour card, missed a short birdie putt at the last hole for the outright lead but his 67 was still the joint lowest of the day. “There was a spike mark right on it (his line). I was thinking about the mark and should have been thinking about striking a good putt. Stupid really,” lamented Griffiths.
“I have just been lacking confidence recently. When you are struggling you think about going backwards rather than forwards. I don’t know what has turned things around but I am just digging in. I need to get something out of the week.”
After finishing third in the Barclays Singapore Open last month, Karlberg, winner of the SAIL Open in India this year, gave himself a chance of winning at the Delhi course again with six birdies against a bogey and one double bogey.
“I will be the king of Delhi if I can win again. Today, it didn’t feel that good but I still had a good score. You can feel that there is something special here which I like,” said the Swede.
“Everything feels comfortable and I trust my putting again. I was a bit down after my win but I feel it’s coming back. I think I’m in good form.”
Indian newcomer Jaini, who has 10 top-10s on the local circuit this season, produced a bogey free card to move into contention at the Hero Honda Indian Open. He shot birdies on the 13th, 18th and second holes for a shot at glory.
“This is my home course and I know it pretty well. I think 10 under would be the winning score. A positive mindset helps a lot at this venue,” said the 27-year-old.
Leading second round scores
138 - Baek Seuk-hyun (KOR) 68-70, Simon Griffiths (ENG) 71-67
139 - Ben Fox (USA) 70-69, Manav Jaini (IND) 70-69, Rikard Karlberg (SWE) 70-69, Anthony Kang (USA) 72-67
140 - Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 70-70, Mukesh Kumar (IND) 70-70, Namchok Tantipokakul (THA) 68-72, Unho Park (AUS) 72-68
141 - Jbe Kruger (RSA) 68-73, Lu Wen-teh (TPE) 70-71, Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 71-70, Kim Hyung-sung (KOR) 67-74, Shamim Khan (IND) 69-72, Panuwat Muenlek (THA) 71-70, Mark Foster (ENG) 72-69
142 - Marcus Both (AUS) 68-74, Ashok Kumar (IND) 69-73, Peter Karmis (RSA) 72-70, Firoz Ali (IND) 71-71, Arjun Atwal (IND) 73-69
Others:
143: Shiv Kapur (IND) 71-73
145: Paul McGinley (IRL) 71-74
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 J.Lindeberg (Official Apparel Partner), Ricoh (Official Office Solutions Provider), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Royal Selangor (Official Trophy Supplier), Singha Beer (Official Beer), Pan Pacific (Official Hotel), BlackBerry (Official Mobile) and Srixon (Official Ball). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.