Photo - Asian Tour
THONGCHAI FIRES DEFENCE WARNING AT BALLANTINE’S CHAMPIONSHIP
Jeju Island, Korea: Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee kept up his title defence by carding a second round five-under-par 67 to take a share of the clubhouse lead at the Ballantine’s Championship which has been reduced to a 54-stroke play tournament on Friday.
Argentina’s Tano Goya posted a 70 to move atop the leaderboard alongside Thongchai on a two-day total of eight-under-par 136 while two-time Asian Tour winner Johan Edfors of Sweden added a 71 to his opening 68 to take equal sixth at the €2.2 million (approximately US$2.9 million) showpiece that is sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and the Korea PGA.
The opening round fog disruption where almost six hours of play was lost left officials with no choice but to reduce the tournament to three rounds so as to ensure a Sunday finish.
“Following the delays to the first round on Thursday, and after reviewing the amount of golf completed yesterday, it has become clear that the completion of 72 holes within the required time frame is not feasible. Therefore the 2010 Ballantine’s Championship will be decided over three rounds (54 holes),” said Tournament Directors, Tamprasert (Asian Tour) and John Paramor (European Tour) in a joint statement.
The weather disruption also meant that first round leader Marcus Fraser of Australia will not return until Saturday morning to begin his second round along with the tournament draw cards that include three-time Major winner Ernie Els, American Anthony Kim and world number 17 Henrik Stenson of Sweden.
Thongchai who had to go back to the starting tee about an hour after the completion of his first round, kept up his momentum to ensure that his defence hopes remain intact.
“I played a total of 35 holes today and it was really a long and tiring day. But I’m really happy that I was able to play really well throughout the day,” said the three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner.
Thongchai who returned with an opening 69 in the morning, enjoyed a bogey-free run on the back-nine with three birdies on the 10th, 17th and 18th holes.
He then birdied holes two and four after the turn to take a share of the lead at eight-under through 13 holes.
A double bogey on the sixth caused him to lose the lead momentary but he recovered strongly with two birdies on the seventh and eighth to leap back to the top of the leaderboard.
“That hole on the sixth was quite tough today. I hit a really bad shot and it went into the woods. I tried to hit it back short to the greens but the wind carried it a little too far. It was a costly double bogey but I’m happy I managed to sink two birdies after that,” said the Thai ace.
Meanwhile Goya who is seeking his second European Tour win credited his putting for keeping him in contention.
“I think my putting was the key today. It was so windy that I missed a lot of greens but luckily I managed to save them with my putts, which was the important thing,” said Goya.
Asian Tour honorary member Y.E Yang, meanwhile, is staring at the possibility of missing the cut after carding rounds of 77 and 73.
Leading completed second round scores
136 - Tano Goya (ARG) 66-70, Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 69-67
137 - Brett Rumford (AUS) 67-70
139 - Johan Edfors (SWE) 68-71, Robert-Jan Derksen (NED) 71-68
141 - Noh Seung-yul (KOR) 71-70
142 - Alexander Noren (SWE) 70-72, Kim Kyung-tae (KOR) 71-71, Danny Willett (ENG) 73-69
143 - Graeme Storm (ENG) 70-73, Peter Lawrie (IRL) 69-74, Shiv Kapur (IND) 70-73
150 - Y.E. Yang (KOR) 77-73