Sorachut Hansapiban closed out with three straight birdies to shoot a bogey-free five-under 67 and storm past over erstwhile leader Sam Gillias as the Thais took control halfway through the PGT Asia Qualifying School at the Luisita Golf and Country Club in Tarlac on Thursday.
The long-hitting Hansapiban, who opened with an eagle spiked 68 Wednesday, actually stayed behind Gillis with just two red numbers on his card after 15 holes. But he birdied the par-5 16th for the second straight day, added another on the tough par-3 17th then holed out with another birdie to gain the lead at nine-under 135.
After a bogey-free 66 Wednesday, Gillis fumbled with two bogeys but gunned down four birdies to stay on top with 36-34 card and a 136 aggregate before Hansapiban took over with a fiery windup in another sizzling day at the hazard-laden layout.
But the battle for low medal honors is expected to go down-to-the-wire with Finnish Janne Kaske (70) and Thais Nirun Sae Ueng (70) and Sattaya Supupramai (68) behind at 137 and a slew of others just another stroke or two back, guaranteeing a shootout in the last 36 holes of the elims organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Young Korean Kim Joo Hyung also put himself in contention with a 68 in one of the late flights to join the 137 group while Englishman Benjamin David fired a 68 to tie Thai Itthipat Buranatanyarat, who wavered with a 72, at 140.
Nattawat Sujavanakorn turned in a 71 for ninth at 141 as five Thais made it to the Top 10 after 36 holes while Richnell Albano carded a 73 and remained the leading local player at 144 in a tie with three others.
Other Filipinos in contention for PGTA slots are Francis Morilla (74-145), Rufino Bayron (70-146), Russell Bautista (73-148), Anthony Fernando (75-148), GJ Katigbak (75-148), Jun Bernis (76-149), Rico Depilo (75-149) and Robert Pactolerin (74-149).
A total of 71 players from a starting field of 132 made it to the last two rounds with the top 40 plus ties gaining cards in the region’s newest circuit sponsored by ICTSI. The second PGT Asia season will start next week, also at Luisita, with this year’s qualifiers joining the top 50 players from last year’s PGTA Order of Merit and the top 30 from the local PGT OOM ranking.
Raymund Gonzales rallied with a 71 and barely made the cut at 150 with six others at joint 65th