Four-time Asian Tour winner Chapchai Nirat proudly announced ‘my game is back’ after firing one of his best tournament rounds for a considerable period, an eight under par 64, to take a two-shot lead halfway through the $700,000 Yeangder TPC today, at Linkou International Golf and Country Club, in Taipei on the Asian Tour.
The former Golden Boy of Thai golfer has been notable by absence for many seasons – the last of his victories on the Asian Tour came in 2014 – but glimpses of his old self were on display today when he made nine birdies before dropping his only shot on the penultimate hole.
Dubai based Shiv Kapur (Ind), the first round leader, following a first round of 64, shot a second round 74 to lie tied 13th after 36 holes.
On completing his round, Shiv told Gulf News, ‘The conditions were very windy this afternoon. My short game today was not up to the mark, nothing like yesterday. Looking at the weather forecast for tomorrow, more rain and wind is expected. I believe I can rely on all my experience of playing in these type of conditions in Europe.’
‘Fingers crossed I can take this as a positive into the weekend,’ concluded Shiv.
Fellow Dubai based MG Keyser (RSA), representing Jumeirah Golf Estates, shot rounds of 69 and 70 to lie in 21st place.
Defending champion Chinese-Taipei’s Lee Chieh-po (68), Indian Ajeetesh Sandhu (68), the winner here in 2017, Settee Prakongvech from Thailand (66), and Berry Henson from the United States (67) sit in second place.
But it was Chinese-Taipei teenage amateur Hsieh Cheng-wei who grabbed much of the attention after adding a 74 to his opening 69 to reach one under and become the youngest male player to make the cut on one of the game’s main Tours.
At 14 years and 33 days old he beat the previous record set by China’s Guan Tian-lang, set at the 2013 Masters, when he was 14 years and 169 days.
Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond had held the Asian Tour record having made it through to the weekend at the Asian Tour International in 2010, when he was 14 years and 71 days.
In his heyday Chapchai shot 32 under par over 72 holes to claim the 2009 SAIL Open in India – setting a new Asian Tour record for the best 72-hole score – and he is looking to get back on track shooting low scores regularly again.
A birdie on the opening hole was the perfect start to his ambitious plan to play all four rounds but he kept people guessing with bogeys on eight and then finished nervously with dropped shots on 16 and 17. Having played in the morning session he had a long wait to see if one under would be good enough, which to the delight of everyone it was as the cut was made at even par.
His compatriot Lee won last year when the event was played just as an event on the local tour due to travel restrictions caused by the global pandemic. A close friend of Chan Shih-chang, who shot 71 and is four off the lead, and godfather to Chan’s son, he feels he knows what it will take to win at the weekend.
The 36 hole cut fell at level par 144.
Scores after round 2 of the Yeangder Tournament Players Championship being played at the par 72, 7108 Yards Linkou GcC course (am - denotes amateur):
133 - Chapchai Nirat (THA) 69-64.
135 - Settee Prakongvech (THA) 69-66, Lee Chieh-po (TPE) 67-68, Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND) 67-68, Berry Henson (USA) 68-67.
136 - Tirawat Kaewsiribandit (THA) 68-68, Bjorn Hellgren (SWE) 68-68.
137 - Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA) 68-69, Chan Shih-chang (TPE) 66-71, Travis Smyth (AUS) 68-69, S Chikkarangappa (IND) 69-68, Liu Yen-Hung (TPE) 69-68.
138 - Wang Tsung-chieh (TPE) 68-70, Cho Tsung-lin (TPE) 69-69, Wang Wei-hsuan (TPE) 70-68, Nitithorn Thippong (THA) 67-71, Rashid Khan (IND) 68-70, Miguel Carballo (ARG) 67-71, Shiv Kapur (IND) 64-74, Lin Keng-wei (TPE) 67-71.
139 - Sung Mao-chang (TPE) 70-69, Danny Masrin (INA) 72-67, Mathiam Keyser (RSA) 69-70, Daniel Fox (AUS) 69-70, Huang Yi-tseng (TPE) 69-70, Ben Leong (MAS) 66-73, Mardan Mamat (SIN) 72-67, Prom Meesawat (THA) 67-72, Justin Quiban (PHI) 73-66.