Friday September 7, 2012
Unknown Vietnamese shocks the rest to share lead with Thaworn
By S. Ramaguru
SHAH ALAM: Unheralded Vietnamese Michael Tran emerged as the surprise joint leader with Thai veteran Thaworn Wiratchant at the halfway mark of the Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters yesterday.
The 22-year-old Tran, who had contemplated quitting after a string of poor results on the Asian Tour, may well delay that decision now, especially after carding a four-under 68 at the Kota Permai Golf and Country Club yesterday.
After returning in the morning to finish off three holes of his rain-disrupted opening round, Tran brilliantly shot five birdies against a lone bogey to grab the joint lead on nine-under 135.
It has left him on the verge of making history as no Vietnamese golfer has ever won on the Asian Tour. But Thaworn, a 13-time winner on the region’s elite circuit, stands in his way.
The 45-year-old Thai birdied his last hole for a 69 as he maintained his chase for an unprecedented 14th title in the RM1.2mil event.
Australian Marcus Both, who finished fifth last year, is a further stroke back following a 69. Spanish rookie Javi Colomo also fired a 69, which included an eagle on the par-four 11th, to share fourth spot with Jhonnel Ababa of the Philippines.
Ababa stands on seven-under for the tournament with one hole remaining after play was suspended due to darkness. He is the only one who did not complete the second round and will return at 7.50am today to finish it off.
Tran, who has not registered a top-10 in three seasons on the Asian Tour, was delighted to feature atop the leaderboard with one of Asia’s greatest players.
“I’m just having a walk in the park,” he said.
“I’m not thinking about anything which I’ve managed to do in the last 36 holes. It won’t be easy to do that in the last two rounds though. But that’s the game of golf, you need a bit of nerves to push you forward,” he said.
“I was planning to do some teaching and my family has some business too. That’s just a plan because you never know what might happen in the next four months or this week. I’m trying not to think about it.
“I didn’t play golf for six weeks after the Queen’s Cup (in June). I didn’t even touch my golf clubs and golf seems like a game to me now rather than before when I treated it like a job.”
Thaworn didn’t produce his A-game, suffering a double bogey on the 13th after flying the green with a wedge shot. But he hit an exquisite approach to four feet on 18th to ensure his presence alongside Tran.
“I didn’t hit it good. I think I didn’t have the power today so this is a good score. Just felt a bit tired,” he said. “However, I’m feeling good about my chances. I know Michael as he plays on the Thai Tour. He is a long hitter and has won one tournament, beating me and Prayad (Marksaeng). He’s playing well this week.”
Australian Both was disappointed that he made three “soft” bogeys on holes eight, 14 and 16 but believes he has an advantage at Kota Permai.
“This is the sort of golf course I like. You don’t have to overpower it but just position the ball around. That’s sort of my strength,” said Both, who is a two-time Asian Tour champion.
The halfway cut was set at 144.
Leading second round scores: 135: Michael Tran (Vie) 67-68, Thaworn Wiratchant (Tha) 66-69; 136: Marcus Both (Aus) 67- 69; 137: Javi Colomo (Esp) 68-69; 138: Kieran Pratt (Aus) 67-71, Lindsay Renolds (Can) 68-70, Jonathan Moore (US) 67-71;
139: Panuphol Pittayarat (Tha) 67-72, Jesper Kennegard (Swe) 70-69, Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind) 68-71, Scott Hend (Aus) 70-69, Vikrant Chopra (Ind) 69-70, Gavin Flint (Aus) 70-69;
140: Mardan Mamat (Sin) 68-72, Himmat Rai (Ind) 70-70, Rattanon Wannasrichan (Tha) 69-71, Jason Knutzon (US) 72-68, Lam Chih Bing (Sin) 70-70;
141: Thammanoon Sriroj (Tha) 70-71, Panuwat Muenlek (Tha) 70-71, Ron Harvey Jr (Can) 71-70, Niall Turner (Irl) 71-70, Rashid Khan (Ind) 69-72, Ajeetesh Sandhu (Ind).
Selected Malaysian scores
142: Nicholas Fung 69-73, Lim Eng Seng 70-72; 143: Danny Chia 70-73, Airil Rizman 72-71; 144: Abel Tam (a) 71-73, Shaaban Hussin 70-74, Low Khai jei (a) 74-70.