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Samui, Thailand: Thai veteran Thaworn Wiratchant produced a scintillating eight-under-par 63 to tie countryman Prayad Marksaeng at the halfway stage of the Queen’s Cup on Friday.
Chasing a record tying 12th career victory on the Asian Tour, the 43-year-old snared eight birdies for a blemish-free card at a defenceless Santiburi Samui Country Club for an eight-under-par 134 total.
Overnight leader Prayad did not take advantage of near-perfect conditions as he shot a 69 while unheralded Siddikur of Bangladesh kept up his dream run with a 68 to lie one shot behind the leading duo.
Sweet-swinging Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines (67), Chinese Taipei’s Lien Lu-sen (67) and Chapchai Nirat of Thailand (68) will enter the weekend rounds two off the pace at the US$300,000 tournament sponsored by Sports Authority of Thailand and Bangkok Airways.
“It was perfect. When I got to the course this morning, I was happy. I focussed well on every shot. Everything was good. I think it’s the first time I’ve been bogey free on this course,” said a delighted Thaworn, who shot four birdies on each nine.
“I made a par save from eight feet on the 11th hole which was important as it kept my momentum going. Coming in, I also missed short birdie chances from the 15th to 17 holes.”
Thaworn, Asia’s number one in 2005, is looking forward to renewing his friendly rivalry with close friend Prayad, whom he defeated two years ago to win the Bangkok Airways Open at the same course.  
“I feel comfortable here as the course is not overly long. I’m looking forward to playing with Prayad. We played a practice round together on Tuesday and it’ll be like another practice round tomorrow. This 63 is by far my best round of the year,” he said.
Prayad, who has six Asian Tour victories under his belt, rued a costly three putt bogey on the third hole. He dropped another bogey on 16 but had four birdies. “Everything was okay except for the three putt bogey,” lamented the Thai, who is 11 months older than Thaworn.
 “The game feels nice, I’m hitting my irons and driving it well. I will continue to play aggressively as it’s not my style to play conservatively. I’ll aim for another three or four under tomorrow but anything can happen,” said Prayad.
While the co-leaders are household names on the Asian Tour, opposite of the spectrum is the 25-year-old Siddikur, who is playing in his second season on the Asian Tour.
Siddikur, who grew up as a ball boy at his local club before becoming the country’s top amateur, extended his glorious charge with a 68, courtesy of five birdies against two bogeys on the holiday isle.
He knows the golfing fraternity in Dhaka will be rooting for him. “I couldn’t contact anyone last night but I’m sure everyone at my golf club and my sponsors will be following my scores on the Asian Tour’s website,” said Siddikur, whose best finish on Tour is tied 18th.
“Inside, I’m feeling nothing. When I first started on the Asian Tour, I was nervous but there is nothing to worry about now. My game is good enough to win,” he added.
Sweet-swinging Pagunsan was victorious in Phuket in a Thai event recently and hopes to challenge again for a long overdue Asian Tour victory. “I played solid. Everything was good although I had some mistakes. You expect that on this course. I like playing in Thailand, it’s like being in the Philippines. It’s very comfortable here for me,” said Pagunsan, who was victorious in the 2007 Pertamina Indonesia President Invitational.
Last year’s winner Chinnarat Phadungsil of Thailand carded a 69 for a 144 total to lie 10 shots off the pace. The halfway cut was set at five-over-par 147 with 70 players progressing into the last two rounds.
Leading second round scores
134 - Prayad Marksaeng (THA) 65-69, Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 71-63
135 - Siddikur   (BAN) 67-68
136 - Juvic Pagunsan (PHI) 69-67, Chapchai Nirat (THA) 68-68, Lien Lu-sen (TPE) 69-67
137 - Hsu Mong-nan (TPE) 68-69
138 - Kenichi Kuboya (JPN) 70-68
139 - Jay Bayron (PHI) 68-71, Michael Tran (VNM) 71-68, Andrew Dodt (AUS) 74-65, Pariya Junhasavasdikul (THA) 69-70, Thitiphan Chuayprakong (THA) 69-70
140 - Chawalit Plaphol (THA) 71-69, Udorn Duangdecha (THA) 71-69, Mars Pucay (PHI) 71-69, Wisut Artjanawat (THA) 71-69, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 72-68, Matthew Rosenfeld (USA) 73-67
141 - Namchoak Tantipokakul (THA) 70-71, Tetsuji Hiratsuka (JPN) 72-69, Iain Steel (MAS) 72-69, Thanyakorn Khrongpha (THA) 70-71

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