Seremban, July 8: Juvic Pagunsan from the Philippines took a big step toward claiming the RM500,000 (US$165,000) Negeri Sembilan Masters Invitational for a second time when he took a share of the halfway lead today.
The 2007 champion fired a six-under-par 66 at Seremban International Golf Club to move to nine-under-par 135 alongside Thailand’s Atthaphon Prathummanee and Varut Chomchalam, who joined him in front after carding rounds of 70 and 69 respectively.
They lead by a stroke from Malaysia’s Rashid Ismail, who carded a 66, and Thailand’s Tepphatud Sanawong, who came in with 67.
Pagunsan is no stranger to success on the ASEAN PGA Tour having claimed last year’s Order of Merit title, helped by victory in the Mercedes-Benz Masters Thailand.
“I dropped a shot on the 10th, which was my first hole today, and that was a bit of an early wake up call. It made me concentrate and knuckle down. I didn’t drop a shot after that and made seven birdies,” said Pagunsan.
The 33-year-old won the event with a 15-under-par total four years ago and is confident he will not be far away from that come Sunday.
“You can make alot of birdies on this course which makes it fun to play. I like playing here and feel good going into the weekend,” added the Filipino.
He has started this year well on the ASEAN PGA Tour and is currently fourth on the Merit list helped by a second place finish in the ICTSI Mt. Malarayat Championship on home soil.
Atthaphon started the day as the joint first round leader with Malaysia’s Airil Rizman and made four birdies against two bogeys. “I played very similar to yesterday but missed a lot of birdie chances today. It was a steady round and I did not make any mistakes,” said the Thai.
“I have been working hard with my coach on my mental side this year. I am trying hard to concentrate on visualizing how to play each hole. It is difficult but it is paying off,” added Atthaphon.
Highly rated Varut, small in stature but possessing a big game, is aged 20 and is chasing his first win on the ASEAN PGA Tour. In 2008 on the ASEAN PGA Tour he finished second twice aged just 17 in strong fields to underline his potential. If not for a double bogey on the seventh he could have held the outright lead.
Malaysia’s top golfer Danny Chia is one of five players two shots off the lead. He carded a 71 and is tied with Rizman, Filipino Antonio Lascuna, Shaaban Hussin from Malaysia, and Siddikur from Bangladesh.
Defending champion S. Sivachandran from Malaysia missed the cut by one.
Leading second round scores
135 – Varut Chomchalam (THA) 66-69, Atthaphon Prathummanee (THA) 65-70, Juvic Pagunsan (PHI) 69-66
136 – Tepphatud Sanawong (THA) 69-67, Md Rashid Ismail (MAS) 70-66
137 – Shaaban Hussin (MAS) 68-69, Antonio Lascuna (PHI) 66-71, Danny Chia (MAS) 66-71, Siddikur (BAN) 69-68, Airil Rizman Zahari (MAS) 65-72
138 – Mars Pucay (PHI) 69-69, Elmer Salvador (PHI) 71-67
139 – Chiragh Kumar (IND) 68-71, Kwanchai Tannin (THA) 72-67