Incheon, Korea: India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar spearheaded the Indian charge with his 66 to take a share of sixth place with Australia’s Michael Wright, while Thailand’s Thitiphun Chuayprakong broke the Korean stronghold when he fired a sizzling seven-under-par 64 to snatch the second round lead at the KRW 1.2 billion (approximately US$1 million) Shinhan Donghae Open on Friday.
Thitiphun, who burst into prominence with his maiden Asian Tour win in Bangladesh earlier this year, continued to impress by making his move with his two-day total of 11-under-par 131 at the Bears Best Cheongna Golf Club.
Defending champion Byeonghun An kept himself in contention by carding a 67 to share second place with compatriot Taewoo Kim at the Shinhan Donghae Open which is seeing the return of the Asian Tour as its new sanctioning partner along with the Korean PGA.
Qualifying School graduate Scott Vincent of Zimbabwe also made his presence felt at the Korean showpiece with a 64 for a tied-fourth place with New Zealand’s Danny Lee, who returned with a 65.
Thitiphun showed why he is becoming one of the revelations of the season when he continued to impress with another commanding performance at the Shinhan Donghae Open, which last featured on the Asian Tour schedule in 2002
"My tee shots were good and that made things a lot easier. I believe I’ve a good chance this week.
“But there are still two more rounds to go and I don’t really want to put too much pressure on myself yet,” said the Thai.
The Thai made up for the disappointment of missing out on his Asian Tour card at the Qualifying School in January by claiming his breakthrough in Bangladesh before going on to make his Major debut at the U.S. Open in June.
“I’ve gained more confidence from playing in the U.S. Open and I’ve been working hard on my short game which is really important this week,” said Thitiphun.
Thitiphun will face stiff opposition from An, who as the week’s highest ranked player, is confident of putting up a strong title defence especially on familiar winning ground.
“Overall it was alright. It was not as good as yesterday but it’s still alright. There are a couple of holes on this course which suit my eyes.
"The greens are rolling nicely and the fairways are in good condition. Everything is clicking nicely and that’s why I’m playing well,” said the world number 38.
While much of the attention are on the top ranked players that includes An, Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee and Australian Order of Merit leader Scott Hend, Vincent was happy his anonymity has played a significant role in his good showing this week.
‘It’s nice coming here where no one really knows who you are and you have no expectations. I’m just playing my own game and so far it has been great.
“If I keep this up, hopefully I’ll move in the same directions as those top guys,” said the rookie.
Bhullar was meanwhile pleased with his good form which he felt could not have come at a better time.
“I was in the tournament winner’s category for the last six years and it’s important to get back into the winner’s circle again. You go through ups and downs in golf. I’ve been working hard on my game and I’m hopeful for that win to happen again.
“I’ve been striking the ball really well the past two months. I hit about 15 greens in regulation yesterday and today I did pretty much the same. I’ve been giving myself lots of birdie opportunities. I made seven birdies today out of which five came from within three feet of the pin. The goal is to repeat what I’ve done for the first 36 holes,” said the five-time Asian Tour winner.
The cut was set at one-over with 73 players progressing into the weekend rounds.
Sponsored by the Shinhan Financial Group for the past 32 years, the Shinhan Donghae Open will be the last major tournament on the KPGA schedule.
Scores after round 2 of the The 32nd Shinhan Donghae Open being played at the par 71, 6933 Yards Bear's Best Cheongna GC course (am - denotes amateur):
131 - Thitiphun CHUAYPRAKONG (THA) 67-64.
132 - Taewoo 1468 KIM (KOR) 66-66, Byeonghun An (KOR) 65-67.
133 - Scott VINCENT (ZIM) 69-64, Danny LEE (NZL) 68-65.
134 - Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 68-66, Michael WRIGHT (AUS) 67-67.
135 - Nicolas PAEZ (USA) 67-68, Jbe KRUGER (RSA) 68-67, Scott HEND (AUS) 70-65, Jeonghyeob HYUN (KOR) 68-67, Malcolm KOKOCINSKI (SWE) 68-67.
137 - Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 69-68, Khalin JOSHI (IND) 68-69, Rattanon WANNASRICHAN (THA) 69-68, Keunchan EOM (KOR) 72-65, Seungtaek LEE (KOR) 71-66, Jaeho KIM (KOR) 71-66, Natipong SRITHONG (THA) 70-67, Sung LEE (KOR) 66-71, Keith HORNE (RSA) 69-68, Bongsub KIM (KOR) 69-68.
138 - Sungho LEE (KOR) 75-63, Gowoong CHOI (KOR) 68-70, Sanghyun PARK (KOR) 69-69, Younghan SONG (KOR) 73-65, Jungho YOON (KOR) 67-71, Changwoo LEE (KOR) 68-70.
139 - Byungjun KIM (KOR) 69-70, Jason KNUTZON (USA) 70-69, Junhyeok PARK (KOR) 71-68, Pariya JUNHASAVASDIKUL (THA) 71-68, Inhoi HUR (KOR) 69-70, Minkyu HAN (KOR) 69-70, Sangyeop LEE (KOR) 71-68, Simon YATES (SCO) 74-65, Junsub PARK (KOR) 70-69, Giwhan KIM (KOR) 66-73.
140 - K.T. KIM (KOR) 72-68, Soomin LEE (KOR) 71-69, Yoonho BAE (KOR) 71-69, Taehoon KIM (KOR) 71-69, Jooneob SON (KOR) 70-70, Adam GROOM (AUS) 69-71, Changkyu HONG (USA) 69-71, Rory HIE (INA) 68-72, Lionel WEBER (FRA) 70-70, Daniel CHOPRA (SWE) 70-70.