BANGKOK, Thailand: Thailand’s Poom Pattaropong rode a hot putter to sign for a six-under-par 65 and grab a share of the lead with local amateur Natthaphat Harnchokchaiskul at the halfway stage of the Thailand Open on Friday.
The 24-year-old Poom, who came through the Asian Tour Qualifying School last December, nailed eight birdies against two bogeys to equal the two-day efforts of overnight leader Natthaphat (70) on eight-under-par 134 total at the Thai Country Club.
The leading duo holds a one-shot advantage over home favourite Prom Meesawat (67), Australia’s Andrew Martin (68), India’s Ajeetesh Sandhu (67) and S.S.P. Chawrasia (67) at the US$300,000 full-field Asian Tour event.
Newly crowned Asian Tour champion Suradit Yongcharoenchai of Thailand continued his fine form by carding a 68 to move within two shots off the lead. He sits in seventh place alongside countryman Charng-Tai Sudsom (68) and Chinese Taipei’s Wang Wei-hsuan (69) on 135.
India’s Shiv Kapur, who opened his campaign with a 74, took a great leap forward after creating a new course record on the par-71 set-up with his blistering round of 63.
The 37-year-old Kapur settled three shots off the pace in tied-10th position with a host of players which include American John Catlin (70) and Phachara Khongwatmai (72) of Thailand.
The halfway cut was set at one-over par 143 with 78 players, included three amateurs, progressing into the weekend rounds.
The Thailand Open marks the start of the Asian Tour’s 2019/20 Panasonic Swing, which is a ranking based on an aggregate point race that spans five events with the final top-three players chasing a share of a lucrative bonus pool.
Did you know?
– Natthaphat Harnchokchaiskul is a member of the Thai Golf Association. The 19-year-old is playing in his first Asian Tour event and his first Thailand Open this week.
– He used to be a member of the Thailand Junior Golf Federation where he had won several Class A events before graduating two years ago. Natthaphat picked up the game when he was nine years old.
– Natthaphat, who hails from Bangkok, was the last man in for the 2019 Thailand Open. He only received his entry confirmation from the Thai Golf Association on Sunday night.
– Natthaphat has hit 83.33% Greens in regulation through the first two rounds of the Thailand Open. He missed only one green in the opening round and found 13 greens in his second round, where he traded four birdies against three bogeys.
– Poom Pattaropong is playing in his second year as a professional golfer. He finished fifth at the Asian Tour Qualifying School last December to secure his playing rights for the 2019 season. It was his second attempt.
– Poom enjoyed a tied-15th place result at the Bangladesh Open in April. It remains his best result in six starts on the Asian Tour so far this season.
– Poom missed the mark in his first attempt at the Qualifying School in 2018 but went on to ply his trade on the ADT where he capped four top-five finishes within a span of two months from August to finish in 15th place on the Order of Merit.
– Poom graduated from the James Madison University in the United States in December 2017.
– Poom is making his debut appearance in his National Open this week. He found 14 greens and needed only 26 putts in his round of 65 today.
– Sitting in 92nd place on the Order of Merit, Poom needs to put up a strong showing to have a chance to break into top-60 at the end of the season and keep his card for 2020.
– Prom Meesawat is a two-time winner on the Asian Tour. He first won in Korea in 2006 before claiming his second victory in Chinese Taipei in 2014.
– Prom’s 2019 season has been a mark of consistency so far. The Thai has claimed three top-10 results and missed only three cuts in 10 starts to sit in 20th place on the Order of Merit.
– Prom has scrambled well in the first two rounds of the Thailand Open this week. In the first round, he managed to get up-and-down for nine out of 10 times and in the second round, he was successful in getting up-and-down six out of seven times.
– Prom won his first Asian Development Tour (ADT) title in Brunei in April. Prior to that, he also won the 20th Singha Thailand Masters on his domestic circuit.
– Prom got his season off to a great start when he secured a tied-fifth place finish at the season-opening Singapore Open in January. He earned a coveted spot at The Open in July, thanks for his solid finish. It was his second appearance at The Open.