Bogey-free Poom moves two clear at halfway stage of Queen’s Cup

Samui, Thailand: Thai rookie Poom Saksansin brilliantly stayed bogey-free for the second straight day at the Queen’s Cup as a four-under-par 67 gave him a two-shot halfway lead over Korea’s Baek Seuk-hyun on Friday.

The 21-year-old former amateur star produced some breath-taking golf at the Santiburi Samui Country Club as he fired four birdies, including a 30-foot stunner on the third hole, to edge towards a surprise victory in the US$300,000 Asian Tour event with his two-day total of nine-under-par 133.

Bangkok-based Baek sank eight birdies en route to the day’s joint best of 66 to move into contention for a first victory on the region’s premier Tour while another Thai newcomer Donlaphatchai Niyomchon shot a 68 to lie three back in the prestigious event which has been won four times by Thai golfers over the past five seasons.

Former champion Chinnarat Phadungsil and EurAsia Cup star Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh will enter the weekend rounds five off the pace in tied fourth place following matching 70s while two-time Asian Tour number one Thaworn Wiratchant (68), Chapchai Nirat (67) and Singaporean newcomer Choo Tze Huang (72) are tied sixth on 139.

A modest and soft-spoken Poom, who helped Thailand lift the team gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games last year, said Lady Luck has been on his side as he continued to upstage many stars of the game at the Queen’s Cup, which is sponsored by Bangkok Airways and Sports Authority of Thailand.

“Sometimes, I’m missing some shots but I’ve been lucky. Today, I got up and down six times for pars, some from the fringe,” said Poom, who needed only 26 putts for the second straight day. “It was great. I had good drives and if I missed, I missed at the right places. I putted good again.”

Qualifying School graduate Poom said he slept well after leading the first round ahead of many more seasoned campaigners. He vowed not to look at the leaderboard going into the weekend. “I managed to sleep nicely. When I came here this afternoon, I was still thinking of just making the cut. I don’t want to think about winning. I just want to think about avoiding bogeys, just think of pars. Maybe tomorrow I will feel more excited. I don’t feel any pressure, not yet anyway. I’m not going to look at them (the other players) too much, just play my game.”

Korea’s Baek, currently fifth on the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit, has notched seven top-fives since 2013 including a runner-up finish in Indonesia recently. He is eager for a first taste of victory but knows that staying patient on the course nicknamed the Beast of Samui will be paramount to his hopes.

“I don’t like this course as it’s hard to play and the wind is hard to read. I started bogey, bogey (on 11 and 12) but came back with birdies on 14 and 15 and then 17 and 18. It was a fast comeback and my confidence came back,” said Baek, whose four previous appearances in Samui include two missed cuts.

“I don’t want to think about it (winning). When I think about winning, I never play good. I want to concentrate on playing my golf and enjoy looking at the views here.”

With three top-10s in the Queen’s Cup, Siddikur is right in the hunt for a third Asian Tour victory after battling to two birdies against a lone bogey. “I missed some easy birdie putts but made some tough up and downs. Overall, it was equal. I wasn’t too disappointed missing those short putts,” said the Bangladeshi, who contributed two points in Asia’s memorable draw with Europe in the inaugural EurAsia Cup presented by DRB-HICOM in Malaysia in March.

Still only 25 but with already three Asian Tour titles already under his belt, Chinnarat fought to a 70 to give himself a shot of winning a second Queen’s Cup, which is held in honour of Her Majesty, Queen Sirikit.

“I feel like it’s been such a long time since I won my last tournament (2009 Queen’s Cup). If I can play like yesterday, hit it good and if my putting works, I think I will have a chance,” he said.

Current Order of Merit leader Anirban Lahiri of India fought back with a 68 for a 143 total to lie 10 shots behind the leader. The halfway cut was set at 146 with 68 players, including two amateurs, progressing into the weekend rounds.

Scores after round 2 of the Queen's Cup Bangkok Airways - SAT Samui Golf 2014 being played at the par 71, 6823 Yards Santiburi GC course (a- denotes amateur):

133 - Poom SAKSANSIN (THA) 66-67.
135 - BAEK Seuk-hyun (KOR) 69-66.
136 - Donlaphatchai NIYOMCHON (THA) 68-68.
138 - Chinnarat PHADUNGSIL (THA) 68-70, Siddikur RAHMAN (BAN) 68-70.
139 - Thaworn WIRATCHANT (THA) 71-68, Chapchai NIRAT (THA) 72-67, CHOO Tze Huang (SIN) 67-72.
140 - Shankar DAS (IND) 70-70, Antonio LASCUNA (PHI) 69-71, Richard T. LEE (CAN) 69-71, Namchok TANTIPOKHAKUL (THA) 71-69, Manav JAINI (IND) 68-72, Rattanon WANNASRICHAN (THA) 69-71.
141 - Tirawat KAEWSIRIBANDIT (THA) 71-70, Wasin SRIPATTRANUSORN (THA) 72-69, WANG Jeung-hun (KOR) 72-69.
142 - Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 71-71, Bryce EASTON (RSA) 70-72, MO Joong-kyung (KOR) 70-72, Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA) 75-67, Zamal HOSSAIN (BAN) 69-73, Miguel TABUENA (PHI) 74-68.