Hua Hin, Thailand: Brazilian Lucas Lee shot a seven-under-par 65 to extend his lead after the second round of the Asian Tour Qualifying School Final Stage on Thursday but it was Korean Park Il-hwan who stole the limelight by shooting a magical albatross.
Lee’s two-day total of 17-under-par 127, which is the third lowest two round score on the Asian Tour, was six strokes better than Japanese Hirohito Koizumi and Pierre-Henri Soero, who hails from New Caledonia, an overseas French colony, at the Imperial Lakeview Golf Club.
David Johnson of the United States, who also played at Imperial Lakeview, closed with a 64 to lie in tied fourth place with Australians Kieran Pratt (67) and Adam Groom (68) on a 135 total.
Park, 18, a member of the gold medal winning team at the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China last year, hit a solid four-iron to about 202 yards before the ball trickled into the 18th hole for the Asian Tour’s 16th albatross. He closed with a 64 for a 136 total at Springfield Royal Country Club to lie in tied seventh place.
The Final Stage, presented by Sports Authority of Thailand, was played over two courses at the Jack Nicklaus-designed Springfield Royal and Imperial Lakeview. Players played on alternate courses for the first two rounds while the final two rounds will be played at Springfield Royal with the top-40 and ties earning their Asian Tour cards for the new 2011 season.
Lee, who played college golf at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), was delighted with his massive lead highlighted by a huge 45 feet birdie putt on the eighth hole.
“I’m only half way through and there are still a lot of golf left. There are many low scores at Springfield and I’m going to have to play really well. I don’t have a number inside my mind. I just want to go out there and see how low I can shoot,” said the 24-year-old, who shot eight birdies against one bogey.
Soero shot four straight birdies from the second hole before making the turn in 31. He added further birdies on holes 11, 14 and 15 before dropping a shot on 18 to close with a 65 for a two-day total of 133.
“Everything worked well for me and it seemed like a flawless round except for the blemish on the last hole. Overall, it was still a good round and I’m looking forward to the next two days,” said Soero, who turned professional in 2007.
“I didn’t make it at the Qualifying School in the United States and didn’t want to play on the mini Tours again. I wanted to see something different and I believe playing in Asia will give me more experience in my career,” said the 27-year-old.
Pratt, 22, who was previously ranked 15th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking, closed with six birdies against one bogey at Springfield Royal and is determined to end his campaign on a high note.
“There’s a score out there for the taking and I’ll try to play solid golf in the next two days. Finishing in the top-40 is obviously the aim but I want to try and finish as high as I can,” said Pratt, who played with 14-time Major winner Tiger Woods of the United States at the Australian Masters last year.
Korean Park, playing from the 10th tee, was beaming with confidence after his albatross which led to birdies on holes one, two, seven and nine.
“It was an unbelievable round and I’m glad to be in the running to finish in the top-40. There are two more rounds to go and I’m looking forward to the next two days. I’m not nervous just excited,” smiled the young Korean.
The halfway cut was set at two-over-par 146 with a total of 112 players making the last two rounds. Highly rated Rashid Khan of India retired from the Qualifying School Final Stage due to illness.
Leading second round scores
127 - Lucas LEE (BRA) 62-65
133 - Pierre-Henri SOERO (FRA) 68-65, Hirohito KOIZUMI (JPN) 65-68
135 - Kieran PRATT (AUS) 68-67, David JOHNSON (USA) 71-64, Adam GROOM (AUS) 67-68
136 - PARK Il-Hwan (KOR) 72-64, Dion SIRIANNI (CAN) 69-67
137 - Tim STEWART (AUS) 70-67, Do KIM (AUS) 71-66, Akinori TANI (JPN) 68-69, Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (THA) 69-68, Ross BAIN (SCO) 68-69, Daisuke KATAOKA (JPN) 68-69, Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 65-72, Andy CHOI (KOR) 70-67
Asian Tour GolfGreedy.com