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PRAYAD STAYS IN DRIVER'S SEAT

 

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Chiangmai, Thailand, March 29: Thailand’s smooth-swinger Prayad Marksaeng maintained his title charge at the inaugural US$750,000 Chiangmai Golf Classic presented by PTT with a second round of five-under-par 67 to stretch his advantage to two shots on Friday.
 
The overnight leader, who is a six-time Asian Tour winner but has not won on the region’s premier tour since 2007, tightened his grip atop the leaderboard with his 12-under-par 132 total at the Alpine Golf Resort-Chiangmai.
 
A host of talented Asian Tour stars, including Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand and Asia’s first Major champion Y.E. Yang of Korea, are hot on his heels. The Chiangmai Golf Classic presented by PTT offers the highest Official World Golf Ranking points in Asia this week with 16 points for the winner.
 
Thongchai, who needs a win in Chiangmai to qualify for the Masters Tournament, shot a fabulous 65 to move to tied second place with American Jonathan Moore (68) and India’s Digvijay Singh, who birdied his last three holes for a 67.
 
Hu Mu, playing on a sponsor’s invitation, stayed in the title hunt with a solid 69 for tied fifth place, three behind Prayad.
 
The powerful Yang shot a 68 and will enter the weekend rounds four back while Ernie Els of South Africa, using a short putter for the first time in a long while, battled to a 71 for tied 41st place on 140.
Prayad, who stuck to the cross-handed putting grip which he changed midway through the first round, credited his fine form to his new irons and golf ball.
 
“I changed to a new golf ball and it seems to be giving me more distance. Last time I hit my driver to about 280 yards but now I’m hitting it 20 yards longer. I’m getting more distance and that’s good for my age,” said the 47-year-old Prayad.
 
Starting from the back nine, Prayad, who has won three titles on home soil this year including his national Open two weeks ago, bounced back from an early bogey on two with acurate irons shots and was rewarded with six birdies, which all came inside of 10 feet.
 
 “I’m happy with how I played. My game, from my driver, irons and putting, were very good. I used the cross-handed grip again today. It seems to be working. I’ve been playing very good this year and I hope I can maintain my form,” added the smiling Thai.
 
Three-time Asian Tour number one Thongchai produced some wonderful golf to put himself in position to win and break into the world’s top-50, which is required to earn an invitation to the Masters Tournament next month.
 
The former paratrooper birdied the third from close range and then holed out with a wedge for a stunning eagle three on the fourth hole which sparked his round. He added four more birdies on the back nine as he outshone playing partner Els.
 
“It is actually a good idea to keep thinking about the Masters Tournament,” said Thongchai, who is ranked 59th in the world. “
 
“I want to win this tournament. It is only the second round and I’m halfway there. I think I have a good chance because I’m only two shots away. If I can get another low round then I have a chance of winning,” add the Thai, who has 13 titles on the Asian Tour, which is celebrating its milestone 10th season in 2013.
 
Moore, who graduated from the Asian Development Tour in 2011 and finished seventh on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit in 2012, said his carefree attitude on the course has given him a chance of landing a first Asian Tour title.
 
“A few things I’ve learned over the years, one of them is to send the ball on its way. I can’t make it go to a particular spot. Just envision that all I’m going to do is to hit it into the ocean instead of a small fairway. Just make that free swing and hit it into a big wide ocean. I think that’s helped a bit,” said Moore, who hit 10 fairways and 14 greens in regulation.
 
Singh was delighted to be feature on the leaderboard again, nearly a year after he claimed his breakthrough victory at the Panasonic Open India which he will defend the title next week.
 
“It has been a long time (being in contention). Since my win, I haven’t done much. It has been a bit of a flash in the pan kind of performance so far. I was trying too hard and trying to get too much out of my rounds,” said the 41-year-old.
 
Els struggled to a 71 to fall eight shots off the pace but still hopes to go low over the weekend.  “It’s going to take a lot of work (to win). I’ll go out there with an aggressive mindset tomorrow and hope to get something going. I’ve not had a really low round all year and I would love to have a low round in the next two days. That’s what I’ll be aiming for. It’ll take a lot to win the tournament from where I am. I just want to get some momentum going through the weekend,” said the reigning British Open champion.
 
The halfway cut was set at two-under-par 142 with a total of 71 players making the weekend rounds.
 
Scores after round 2 of the Chiangmai Golf Classic being played at the par 72, 7471 Yards Alpine GR course (a- denotes amateur):
132 - Prayad MARKSAENG (THA) 65-67.
134 - Jonathan MOORE (USA) 66-68, Digvijay SINGH (IND) 67-67, Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 69-65.
135 - HU Mu (CHN) 66-69, Pawin INGKHAPRADIT (THA) 67-68, Bryce EASTON (RSA) 68-67, Matthew STIEGER (AUS) 68-67.
136 - Jason KNUTZON (USA) 67-69, Mithun PERERA (SRI) 70-66,  SIDDIKUR (BAN) 69-67.
137 - YANG Y. E. (KOR) 69-68, Scott HEND (AUS) 68-69, MO Joong-kyung (KOR) 70-67, Atthaphon SRIBOONKAEW (THA) 72-65, Zaw MOE (MYN) 70-67.
138 - Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA) 71-67, David LIPSKY (USA) 69-69, Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 71-67, BAEK Seuk-hyun (KOR) 69-69, Thitiphun CHUAYPRAKONG (THA) 68-70, KIM Seng-yong (KOR) 70-68, Himmat RAI (IND) 71-67, Anton HAIG (RSA) 72-66, Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 66-72, Tetsuji HIRATSUKA (JPN) 70-68, Carlos PIGEM (ESP) 68-70, Chapchai NIRAT (THA) 70-68, Jake HIGGINBOTTOM (AUS) 70-68, Boonchu RUANGKIT (THA) 70-68, Jaakko MAKITALO (FIN) 72-66, Chris RODGERS (ENG) 72-66, Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA) 68-70.
139 - Udorn DUANGDECHA (THA) 70-69, Panuwat MUENLEK (THA) 68-71, HUNG Chien-yao (TPE) 70-69, Javi COLOMO (ESP) 74-65, Mardan MAMAT (SIN) 70-69, Pariya JUNHASAVASDIKUL (THA) 69-70, Marcus BOTH (AUS) 71-68.
140 - Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 70-70, Antonio LASCUNA (PHI) 69-71, Adam GROOM (AUS) 68-72, Wade ORMSBY (AUS) 70-70, Namchok TANTIPOKHAKUL (THA) 71-69, Jbe KRUGER (RSA) 71-69, Ernie ELS (RSA) 69-71, Anirban LAHIRI (IND) 71-69, Shiv KAPUR (IND) 69-71, LAM Chih Bing (SIN) 73-67, Sam CYR (USA) 70-70, Pavit TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA) 71-69, LU Wen-teh (TPE) 74-66.
 
Ends.
 
About the Asian Tour
In 2013, the Asian Tour will celebrate a momentous milestone with its 10th season. 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 Abacus (Official Apparel Partner), BlackBerry (Official Communications Partner), Canon (Official Imaging Partner), Inetol Headwear (Official Headwear Supplier), Saxo Capital Markets (Official Statistic Partner), Singha Beer (Official Beer), Srixon (Official Ball), Starwood Hotels and Resorts (Official Hotels and Resorts) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). The Asian Tour has offices in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Also, visit us at www.asiantour.com, www.facebook.com/asiantourgolf, www.twitter.com/asiantourgolf, www.youtube.com/theasiantour and www.weibo.com/asiantourgolf
 
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29/03/2013 06:36 PM

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