The 27-year-old Thailand’s Rattanon Wannasrichan maintained his lead despite a round of 73 and was in contention for his second title on the Asian Tour. AT second spot was Korean teenager Joohyung Kim, who returned a 69, on another day of strong winds.
India’s Chikkarangappa S, in with a 70, is in third place three behind the leader — in the penultimate event of the 2020-21 season. Chikka had three birdies against one bogey. First-round leader, Khalin Joshi slipped to fourth.
Rashid Khan had a round of 70 and rose to tied 14th (T-14), while Viraj Madappa was T-36 after dropping with a card of 78. Shubhankar Sharma (77) and Ajeetesh Sandhu (80) dropped to T-45, while Shiv Kapur (75) and Abhijit Chadha (75) were T-55.
Thailand’s 14-year-old amateur star Ratchanon Chantananuwat, who was two behind the leader at the start of the day, slipped back with a 76 and is five off the pace.
Rattanon, the winner of the 2017 Thailand Open, overcame nerves over the opening holes to stay in front and set up one of the most important days of his career on Sunday.
“I was really nervous in the beginning, but I calmed myself down by singing a Thai song in my mind and by talking to my caddie,” said the Thai golfer, who spent much of last year playing on the secondary circuit in Japan.
“As I keep saying, the course is so hard, everyone feels like that. But it is a good experience for me. I just have to take it shot by “hot tomorrow.”
Bogeys on two, nine and 11 suggested it was not going to be Rattanon’s day, but he rallied with birdies on 12 and 18. For the second day in a row, he reached the brutal 626-yard par-five 18th in two but unlike yesterday his eagle putt slipped past the cup.
Kim, aged 19, moved into contention with the joint lowest round of the day, highlighted by a back nine of three-under with birdies on 14, 17 and 18.
He said: “It’s so hard to be aggressive here just because of the conditions, obviously you see the scores you’shoot even par, you’re jumping up. So, play aggressive when I can but just try to play as conservative as I can, if possible. That’ll be the game plan.”
In 2019 after earning a battlefield promotion from the Asian Development Tour by claiming three events, he made an instant impact by winning in just his third start on the Asian Tour at the Panasonic Open in India.
Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond, the reigning Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, also carded a 76 and in joint 10th, eight behind Rattanon. Wade Ormsby, the current leader of the Merit list, was another to-card 76 and is 10 off the pace.
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