Henan - Natipong Srithong of Thailand shot a second round five-under-par 67 to grab a share of the halfway lead at the US$300,000 Asia-Pacific Classic on Friday.
The one-time Asian Tour champion had a near flawless round, carding six birdies against a lone bogey to sign for his second consecutive 67 at the St Andrews Golf Club in Henan, China.
“I’m very happy with my tournament so far. I haven’t been playing very well this year as I missed a lot of cuts. But after these two rounds in China, my confidence is coming back,” said the laws student of Thammasat University.
“This week, I am working hard on my driver as well as three-wood shots off the tee and keeping the ball on the fairway. I was driving very badly previously, but it has changed for the better this week! You have to keep off the rough here, otherwise, you may have problems keeping the ball on the green. My putting has also been very good this week,” added winner of the Asian Tour title in Manila three years ago.
“I made a birdie from about 25-feet away on my last hole yesterday. Today, the good thing was that I didn't have to make such long putts for birdies as my approach shots were good. I’ll keep to my same plan for Saturday and Sunday, that is, to keep the ball on the fairway,” added the 24-year-old Thai.
John Catlin of the United States shared the lead with Natipong on a 10-under-par 134 total. The 27-year-old continued his outstanding run of form as he carded a 66 at the tournament, which is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the China Golf Association (CGA).
Catlin, who has recently finished in the top-10 in two consecutive Asian Tour tournaments, blemished his scorecard with a bogey on hole one but recovered brilliantly with an eagle on the following hole.
American Charlie Saxon displayed the form that led to two titles on the China Golf Tour as he returned with a bogey-free 66. He fought through a stomach ache to card four birdies and an eagle.
Adam Blyth of Australia began his second round unceremoniously but ended the day with a birdie blitz. Blyth, who started on tee 10, made his first birdie after the turn on the second hole then made five consecutive birdies from holes five to nine to finish with a 66.
Xiao Bowen of China made a personal breakthrough by making the cut on the Asian Tour for the first time in 2018. He won on home soil last year in Xiamen and had put himself in contention with a 68 for a 138 total. Xiao is just four shots off the lead.
Leading scores after round 2 of the Asia-Pacific Classic being played at the par 72, 7261 Yards St. Andrews (Zhengzhou) Golf Club course (am - denotes amateur):
134 - John CATLIN (USA) 68-66, Natipong SRITHONG (THA) 67-67.
135 - Charlie SAXON (USA) 69-66.
136 - Adam BLYTH (AUS) 70-66, Jack HARRISON (ENG) 67-69, KOH Deng Shan (SIN) 67-69.
137 - Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 68-69, Shohei HASEGAWA (JPN) 68-69, Josh YOUNGER (AUS) 67-70.
138 - Jack WILSON (AUS) 67-71, XIAO Bowen (CHN) 70-68, YANG Yinong (CHN) 67-71, Andrew MARTIN (AUS) 66-72, Steven JEFFRESS (AUS) 71-67, Dino A. GIACOMAZZI (USA) 72-66.
139 - Sunil JUNG (CAN) 73-66, HAK Shun-Yat (HKG) 71-68, Pawin INGKHAPRADIT (THA) 71-68, Udorn DUANGDECHA (THA) 71-68, Callum TARREN (ENG) 67-72, Miguel CARBALLO (ARG) 68-71, Taewoo KIM #1087 (KOR) 70-69.
140 - Poom SAKSANSIN (THA) 71-69, HUANG Wenyi (CHN) 71-69, Justin SHIN (CAN) 70-70, Honey BAISOYA (IND) 67-73, LU Wei-chih (TPE) 72-68, CHEN Dinggen (CHN) 71-69, Chirat JIRASUWAN (THA) 70-70.
141 - Suteepat PRATEEPTIENCHAI (THA) 69-72, Danthai BOONMA (THA) 67-74, Pannakorn UTHAIPAS (THA) 67-74, Suradit YONGCHAROENCHAI (THA) 71-70, Niall TURNER (IRL) 71-70.
142 - Michael CHOI (AUS) 71-71, Kevin LEE (KOR) 69-73, Piya SWANGARUNPORN (THA) 71-71, Matt STIEGER (AUS) 71-71, Pasavee LERTVILAI (THA) 71-71, Javier GALLEGOS (ESP) 72-70, LIU Yanwei (CHN) 67-75, Suttijet KOORATANAPISAN (THA) 74-68, Mitchell SLORACH (SIN) 72-70, Gareth PADDISON (NZL) 68-74, Chapchai NIRAT (THA) 71-71, MatthewPERRY (NZL) 72-70.