Boonchu puts Thongchai in the shade in Myanmar
BY iseekgolf.com | Asian Tour | 2005 Myanmar Open | Round Two | 25 Feb 2005
Thai veteran Boonchu Ruangkit fired a second successive four-under-par 68 in the 10th Myanmar Open today as he looks to prevent in-form compatriot Thongchai Jaidee from back-to-back wins.
The 48-year-old Boonchu, a former two-time winner here, leads by one stroke on eight-under-par 136 from Thongchai at the halfway stage of the US$200,000 Asian Tour event at Yangon Golf Club.
Defending champion Thongchai struggled on the sun-baked greens, needing 31 putts en route to a second round 70 for second place while last year’s runner-up Andrew Pitts of the United States was a further two strokes back after a two under round.
Pakistan’s Muhammad Munir, Chawalit Plaphol of Thailand, Chinese Taipei veteran Lu Wen-teh and American Mike Cunning share fourth place on 140, four behind the new leader.
Boonchu sank five birdies against a lone bogey and was looking forward to an enticing head-to-head duel with Thongchai, who successfully retained his Carlsberg Malaysian Open crown last Sunday.
“I played alright, not bad for an old man,” said Boonchu, who was victorious in Myanmar in 1996 and 1997. "The greens are firming up and it’s getting harder to get the ball close to the hole.
“Thongchai is still the man to beat out here on this course. This is like his home course and he’s so confident now,” added the reigning Thai Open champion.
Thongchai, the joint overnight leader, failed to buy a putt despite hitting 14 greens in regulation. He turned in two-under with close range birdies on 17 and 18 but dropped a shot on the second hole with a wayward tee shot that landed amongst trees. But he bounced back with his third birdie of the day at the par five sixth.
“I couldn’t get the putts in,” lamented Thongchai. “Some the lines were a bit tricky. I hit some good shots but couldn’t make a score. It’ll be good to play with Boonchu and I’m not surprised that he’s playing well as he also likes this course.”
While Thongchai, ranked 58th in the world, is pushing hard for another victory which will enhance his prospects of earning a US Masters slot in April, he expects the third round pairing with his idol to be a relaxed affair.
“We’ll have some fun and I’m sure it’ll be like one of our practice rounds. I’m one shot back and still have a chance of winning.”
Joint first round leader Matthew Cort of England struggled to a 76 which included two double bogeys as he dropped off the leaderboard on 143. Indian duo Mukesh Kumar and Arjun Singh lie in joint eighth place on 141 with Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand, Swede Olle Nordberg and Aussie Scott Strange.
Newcomer Hla Myo remained as Myanmar’s best performer, shooting a 71 for a two-day score of 143 in equal 22nd position.
Singapore’s Mardan Mamat, meanwhile, secured the eighth and final automatic spot in the Asian Team to face Japan in April’s Visa Dynasty Cup at Mission Hills, China. His closest challenger Thammanoon Srirot of Thailand missed the halfway cut after adding a 75 to his opening 77.
“It’s good to know that I’ve made it,” said Mamat, who will become the first player from Singapore to feature in the Ryder Cup-style shootout. “I never expected Thammanoon to miss the cut here,” added the Singaporean, who has a two-day total of 146 to make the weekend play by two strokes.
Thammanoon, who holed the winning putt two years ago against Japan, said wayward driving was to blame for his early exit from the Myanmar Open. “I was just going left and right from off the tee. It looks like I will have to depend on a captain’s pick now,” said Thammanoon, who is ninth on the current team ranking.
Asia’s non-playing captain Hsieh Min-nan will name his four wild cards after the completion of the Myanmar Open. Thongchai, Boonchu, Prayad Marksaeng, Thaworn Wiratchant, India’s Jyoti Randhawa, Korean duo Charlie Wi and Mo Joong-kyung and Mamat earned the top-eight automatic slots.
Source – Asian Tour