Photo - Asian Tour
FRASER REGAINS LEAD AT BALLANTINE’S CHAMPIONSHIP
Jeju Island, Korea: Opening round leader Marcus Fraser of Australia carded a two-under-par 70 for a two-day total of nine-under-par 135 to take a single shot lead at the Ballantine’s Championship which has been reduced to a 54-stroke play tournament on Saturday.
Fraser regained the lead from defending champion Thongchai Jaidee and Argentina’s Tano Goya who had earlier taken the clubhouse lead by signing for matching 136s on Friday.
Northern Ireland’s Gareth Maybin matched his opening 68 to take equal second alongside Thongchai and Goya 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 on Thursday where almost six hours of play was lost led the tournament to be reduced to three rounds so as to ensure a Sunday finish.
Korea’s Ted Oh kept himself in contention for his career breakthrough on the Asian Tour by carding a 70 to take a share of fifth place alongside three-time Major winner Ernie Els of South Africa and Australia’s Brett Rumford on 137.
Singapore’s Mardan Mamat held the distinction of being the only player of the day to sign for two eagles on the par-five fourth and 10th to take tied-eighth position with England’s Oliver Fisher on 138.
Fraser continued to enjoy another solid outing at the Pinx Golf Club by mixing three birdies against a lone bogey on the par-four eighth to hold a slender lead heading into the final round on Sunday.
“I played really well. I just didn't make a couple of putts through the start of the round, probably the front nine, but you know, I made a couple good birdies towards the end of the round and felt like I played just as well as I did on Thursday,” said the Australian.
Fraser also credited lady luck for playing a part in his good round after strong winds posed challenging playing conditions.
“It was just very tough conditions out there. It was windy most of the day but a couple of times it dropped and came back and was just hard to judge the shots coming into the green. It was a bit of a fluke really, but I managed to try to hit plenty of greens and holed a few putts when I had to,”said Fraser who is seeking to end a seven-year title drought.
Oh who had the day off on Friday due to the weather disruption that caused a revise in tee time schedules, came back again strongly by carding a magical eagle three on the par-five fourth.
He dropped a shot on the eighth but recovered well with a birdie on the ninth to reach the turn in 34.
Oh’s homeward run on the back-nine was however coloured with two birdies and two bogeys.
“I'm happy with a 70 today. But I felt like I could have played better. I made a couple of silly mistakes on the back nine where I thought it was downhill and it was an uphill putt and I made a couple bogeys there,” said Oh.
The California-based Korean believes that it will now come down to a test of his mental strength as he seeks to win his maiden title on the Asian Tour since turning professional in 1999.
“I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself the last couple of years, but you know I'm going to go out there tomorrow and just try to play my game. I'm not going to look at the leaderboard that much and try to chase it as that was my mistake in the past,” said Oh.
Meanwhile Mardan who enjoyed a top-10 finish at the Ballantine’s Championship last year edged into contention for his third Asian Tour win
“I had a good start on the first ten holes and I kept myself very steady in these windy conditions,” said Mardan who marked his card with two eagles, three bogeys and a birdie on the par-five 16th.
Mardan believes that the key to victory for him will lie in his short game as he attempts to overcome a three-shot deficit that currently separates him from Fraser.
“I hope to sharpen up that up before I tee off for the final round tomorrow. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the final round and if I can maintain my form like this, I'll be very happy,” said the 42-year-old Singaporean.
Asian Tour honorary member Y.E Yang will not be among the 68 player featuring in the final round after missing the cut which was set at one-over.
Leading second round scores
135 - Marcus Fraser (AUS) 65-70
136 - Tano Goya (ARG) 66-70, Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 69-67, Gareth Maybin (NIR) 68-68
137 - Brett Rumford (AUS) 67-70, Ernie Els (RSA) 68-69, Ted Oh (KOR) 67-70
138 - Mardan Mamat (SIN) 68-70, Oliver Fisher (ENG) 68-70
139 - Johan Edfors (SWE) 68-71, Robert-Jan Derksen (NED) 71-68, Henrik Stenson (SWE) 69-70, Rhys Davies (WAL) 67-72, Rick Kulacz (AUS) 68-71
140 - Anthony Kang (USA) 71-69, Peter Hanson (SWE) 68-72, Jamie Donaldson (WAL) 68-72, Kim Dae-hyun (KOR) 68-72, Robert Rock (ENG) 67-73, David Drysdale (SCO) 72-68, Niclas Fasth (SWE) 70-70
142 – Anthony Kim (USA) 68-74
150 - Y.E. Yang (KOR) 77-73