Panuwat, Jakraphan share Panasonic halfway lead

Panuwat Muenlek ©Arep Kulal|PGM Tour

Sungai Buloh [SELANGOR]: Thailand’s Jakraphan Premsirigorn carded a solid seven-under-par 65 to seize the halfway lead with countryman Panuwat Muenlek at the PGM Panasonic Malaysia Championship on Thursday.

Jakraphan, a one-time Asian Development Tour (ADT) winner, fired one eagle and six birdies against a bogey to sit atop the leaderboard on 11-under-par 133 total alongside overnight co-leader Panuwat, who signed for a 69, at the Kelab Rahman Putra.

American Brett Munson returned with a second straight 67 to settle one shot back in third place with Mohammad Wafiyuddin, who remained as the highest-placed Malaysian after signing for a 70 at the RM250,000 (approximately US$55,000) ADT event.

A total of 10 players, including American Lexus Keoninh (72), young Thai talent Suradit Yongcharoenchai (69), Singapore’s Quincy Quek (68) and K P Lin (66) of Chinese Taipei , shared fifth place on 137 in what is the second leg of the ADT schedule this season.

Panuwat, who won twice on the ADT last season, marked his card with five birdies against two bogeys to keep up his chase for a fourth victory on the secondary circuit. All three of his past victories were achieved in Malaysia.

“I didn’t manage to sink as many putts as I did yesterday. That was the main difference. But I hung in there and tried my best. Overall, the game is good. I made a 20-feet birdie putt on fifth. That was the longest putt I made today. I am happy,” said the 31-year-old Thai.

Panuwat lamented a missed opportunity on securing his Asian Tour card after finishing seventh on the 2016 ADT Order of Merit, just one rung away from the cut-off mark. The father of one, however, is determined to come back stronger this season.

“Winning on the ADT has given me a lot of confidence. Missing out on my Asian Tour card by one rung on the Merit rankings last year was disappointing but I had to pick myself up. Hopefully I can make the most from playing on the ADT again this year,” Panuwat added.

A total of 54 players made the halfway cut set at two-under-par 142 at the PGM Panasonic Malaysia Championship.

Muhammad Afif Fathi struck an ace on the par-three 12th hole with a six-iron from 165 metres to survive the halfway cut on the mark. He signed for a 73 and became the only local amateur to make it into the weekend rounds at the ADT event.