Flawless 63 propels Thaworn at Queen’s Cup

Thaworn Wiratchant

Thaworn Wiratchant

SAMUI, Thailand – For Thaworn Wiratchant, a chance for victory at the Queen’s Cup – and a share of an Asian Tour record – could very well come at the expense of an old friend and rival.

The Thai veteran crafted a bogey-free 63 to tie countryman Prayad Marksaeng at the half-way mark of the tournament held at Santiburi Samui Country Club.

LEADING SECOND-ROUND SCORES

134 – Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 65-69; Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 71-63

135 – Siddikur (BAN) 67-68

136 – Juvic Pagunsan (PHI) 69-67; Chapchai Nirat (THA) 68-68; Lien Lu-sen (TPE) 69-67

137 – Hsu Mong-nan (TPE) 68-69

138 – Kenichi Kuboya (JPN) 70-68

139 – Jay Bayron (PHI) 68-71; Michael Tran (VNM) 71-68; Andrew Dodt (AUS) 74-65; Pariya Junhasavasdikul (THA) 69-70; Thitiphan Chuayprakong (THA) 69-70

140 – Chawalit Plaphol (THA) 71-69; Udorn Duangdecha (THA) 71-69; Mars Pucay (PHI) 71-69; Wisut Artjanawat (THA) 71-69; Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 72-68; Matthew Rosenfeld (USA) 73-67

141 – Namchok Tantipokakul (THA) 70-71; Tetsuji Hiratsuka (JPN) 72-69; Iain Steel (MAS) 72-69; Thanyakorn Khrongpha (THA) 70-71

If Wiratchant, 43, holds off Prayad and others – including Siddikur of Bangladesh, who’s a stroke of the lead following a 69 – he’ll claim his 12th win on the Asian Tour. Such an accomplishment would equal the tour’s career-victory record held by Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, who has 12 titles.

“It was perfect. When I got to the course this morning, I was happy,” said Thaworn, who shot four birdies on each nine. “I focused well on every shot. Everything was good. I think it’s the first time I’ve been bogey-free on this course.

Thaworn, Asia’s No. 1 player in 2005, is looking forward to renewing his friendly rivalry with close friend Prayad, whom he defeated two years ago to win the Bangkok Airways Open at the same course.

“I feel comfortable here as the course is not overly long,” Thaworn said. “We played a practice round together on Tuesday, and it’ll be like another practice round tomorrow.”

Among those chasing the duo: Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines (67), Chinese Taipei’s Lien Lu-sen (67) and Chapchai Nirat of Thailand (68). They will enter the weekend rounds two off the pace at the U.S. $300,000 tournament.

Prayad, who has six Asian Tour victories, scored a three-putt bogey on the third hole. He dropped another bogey on 16, but had four birdies.

“Everything was okay except for the three-putt bogey,” lamented the Thai, who is 11 months older than Thaworn.

“The game feels nice,” Prayad said. “I’m hitting my irons well and driving it well. I will continue to play aggressively as it’s not my style to play conservatively. I’ll aim for another three- or four-under tomorrow.”

Unlike the co-leaders who are household names on the Asian Tour, Siddikur is at the other end of the spectrum. The 25-year-old is playing in his second season on the tour.

Siddikur, who grew up as a ball boy at his local club before becoming the country’s top amateur, extended his charge with a 68 – courtesy of five birdies against two bogeys on the holiday isle.

He knows the golfing fraternity in Dhaka will be rooting for him.

“I couldn’t contact anyone last night, but I’m sure everyone at my golf club and my sponsors will be following my scores,” said Siddikur, whose best finish on tour is T-18.

Last year’s winner, Chinnarat Phadungsil of Thailand, carded a 69 for a 144 total to lie 10 shots off the pace. The half-way cut was set at five-over-par 147 with 70 players progressing into the last two rounds.

Asian Tour contributed to this report.

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