Manila, The Philippines; May 13: Jay Bayron (pic) kept hopes alive for a local national Open winner after tying India’s Himmat Rai for the halfway lead at the ICTSI Philippine Open on Friday.
Bayron returned with a 69 to top the leaderboard alongside Rai, who posted a two-under-par 70, for a two-day total of six-under-par 138 in the US$300,000 event held at the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club.
Rookies Berry Henson of the United States and Daisuke Kataoka of Japan were a stroke back with South African Jbe Kruger, who finished second on three occasions last year.Thailand’s Panuphol Pittayarat bounced back from two opening bogeys with a solid 69 to lie in sixth place, two strokes from the leaders.
Bayron fired four birdies against one bogey with the highlight of his round coming on the 14th hole when his eagle attempt from 97 yards out stopped mere inches from the cup. He will attempt to become only the 17th Filipino to win the Open, which enjoys the distinction of being Asia’s oldest national Open, dating back to 1913.
“This is a very difficult golf course and I’m very surprised to shoot six-under after two rounds. Winning on the Asian Tour especially my national Open will be a dream come true,” smiled the 32-year-old.
The 23-year-old Rai (right) was on seven-under after 15 holes but swirling winds threw him off track when he dropped his second bogey of the day on the 16th hole.“It was hot out there and the wind picked up later in the afternoon. The wind was swirling but I managed my shots well to give myself a chance in the weekend,” said Rai.
He hopes there will not be a repeat of last week’s tournament where he was in contention at the Impian Classic in Malaysia on the Asian Development Tour before finishing in tied fifth place. “There’s always a huge learning curve in golf and the one thing I took back from last week was how to handle myself. I think I’ve done that pretty well in these two days,” added the Indian.
Henson, 31, continued his rich vein of form after winning the Clearwater Masters in Malaysia on the Asian Development Tour two weeks ago. He was delighted to be in the mix when he made a pivotal up-and-down par save on the 17th hole after his tee shot found the fairway bunker.“I felt like I escaped with my score. If I can get my putter going, I will be dangerous in the weekend,” said Henson.
Thailand’s rising star Panuphol kept his concerntration intact after two early bogeys and was rewarded with five birdies as he returned with 69.“I was frustrated when I bogeyed the first two holes but I tried to maintain my tempo and emotions. My goal was to make the cut but now I’m hoping to finish in the top-five,” said the 18-year-old, who sank three straight birdies from the 13th hole.
The halfway cut was set at four-over-par 148 with a total of 65 players making the weekend rounds.
Leading second round results
138 – Jay BAYRON (PHI) 69-69, Himmat RAI (IND) 68-70
139 – Berry HENSON (USA) 69-70, Jbe KRUGER (RSA) 71-68, Daisuke KATAOKA (JPN) 70-69
140 – Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 71-69
141 – WANG Ter-chang (TPE) 69-72
142 – Lucas LEE (BRA) 72-70, BAEK Seuk-hyun (KOR) 73-69, Peter KARMIS (RSA) 69-73, Mars PUCAY (PHI) 69-73, Digvijay SINGH (IND) 70-72, Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 70-72, Juvic PAGUNSAN (PHI) 73-69
143 – Takafumi KAWANE (JPN) 70-73, Namchok TANTIPOKHAKUL (THA) 72-71, Chapchai NIRAT (THA) 72-71, Darren BECK (AUS) 71-72, Pariya JUNHASAVASDIKUL (THA) 71-72, SIDDIKUR (BAN) 71-72, Kwanchai TANNIN (THA) 73-70.
147 – Thanyakon KHRONGPHA (Tha) 68-79
148 – Frankie MINOZA (Phi) 76-72
149 – Rikard KARLBERG (Swe) 74-75