India’s Jyoti Randhawa snatched the outright lead by establishing this season’s lowest 36-hole score with his second round seven-under-par 65 at the US$1 million Resorts World Manila Masters on Friday.
Randhawa, who was Asia’s number one in 2002, has yet to drop a shot after two rounds and his two-day total of 15-under-par 129 saw him enjoy a two-shot advantage over Thailand’s Sutijet Kooratanapisan and Tirawat Kaewsiribandit at the Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club.
India’s S.S.P. Chawrasia produced one of his best rounds of the year by carding a 64 to secure fourth place while Thailand’s Sattaya Supupramai, who almost broke the course record, settled for a share of fifth place after returning with a 63.
Randhawa started the day tied for the lead with four other players but quickly broke away from the pack with three successive birdies starting from the par-four 11 in his opening back-nine 10.
After turning in 32, the 44-year-old marked his card with three more birdies on holes one, five and eight to set himself up nicely for a shot at clinching his ninth Asian Tour title this week.
“I found the rhythm back in my swing and I just stuck with that and decided to do the same thing today. I was a bit tentative on the first hole but I told myself, let’s do what I did yesterday.
“I put my head down and made three great swings, three great putts and played those three holes fabulously well. After that, I knew what I needed to do and just stuck to that game plan,” said the Indian.
Sutijet made his move by trading seven birdies against a lone bogey to make his move up the leaderboard after starting the day tied for sixth.
“I putted really well and gave myself several my birdie chances. I took advantage of them and managed to put myself into a good position heading into the weekend.
“It has been good so far and I hope this good form will continue,” said Sutijet.
Chawrasia also had a round to remember especially when he stormed home by firing six birdies in seven holes.
After turning in 33, the four-time Asian Tour winner went further ahead with another birdie on 10 only to be pegged back by a double-bogey on 11.
“I got a little annoyed with myself after that double bogey on 11. But my caddie told me to calm down and what’s past is past. I changed my mindset and managed to go on that birdie run,” said Chawrasia.
The Indian then showed great recovery by charging back with his birdie blitz starting from the par-four 12.
“It felt really good. It has been a long time since I last made 11 birdies in a round so I’m really happy. The difference between yesterday and today was the putts. I managed to make lots of putts from 10, 15 feet,” said Chawrasia.
Sattaya could not contain his delight as he managed to tie the course record of 63 set by compatriot Prom Meesawat in 2013.
Sattaya looked likely to even break that record when he blitzed the course with 10 birdies which included seven on the trot from the par-four seven.
“It was a fantastic feeling (making seven birdies in a row) as I’ve never done something like this before. The closest I got to this was in Johor several years ago where I made five birdies,” said Sattaya.
His charge was only halted on 17 when the weather elements decided to wreak havoc.
“I knew it was possible to break the course record. But it started to rain when I was approaching my finishing holes.
“I hit my tee shot went into the bunker on 17 and later got a bogey there. On the last hole, I missed the fairway and it was tough reading the line there,” said the Thai.
The weekend cut was set at four-under with 66 players progressing into the final two rounds.
Resorts World Manila Masters partners include Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club, Marriott (Official Hotel Partner) and supported by Aristocrat, IGT, Konami, Scientific Games, Empire Automation, LJ Industries, Levelwear, RGB LTD, PLDT Alpha, Dalmore, Srixon and Bloomberg.