Bandar Seri Begawan - Thailand’s Tawit Polthai produced a brilliant six-under-par 64 to charge into the lead at the halfway stage of the Butra Heidelberg Cement Brunei Championships on Thursday.
The 25-year-old Thai, who started the round in tied third, stayed blemish-free to hold a three-shot advantage over American Austen Truslow (67) in second place with his two-day total of 11-under-par 129 at the US$75,000 event.
Defending champion, Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, was forced to withdraw after three holes as a precaution due to an ongoing knee injury.
Overnight leader Itthipat Buranatanyarat of Thailand (71) and countryman Prom Meesawat (68) were among six players bunched in tied-third at The Empire Hotel and Country Club.
Tawit enjoyed a solid ball-striking day, missing only two greens in regulation in his flawless round highlighted by six birdies.
“My putting was good today and I was striking my irons well. I made 16 greens today and most of my birdie putts were inside 15-feet. I had a good start which boosted my confidence, and I was just having fun and playing my own game all day,” said Tawit, who hails from Chantaburi.
The Thai, who last won on his local circuit in 2013, will employ the same carefree mindset in his bid for a breakthrough victory on the Asian Development Tour (ADT).
“The wind started to pick up in the second nine and I had to hit lower shots into the wind. But I still managed to stay out of trouble and come back bogey-free. I just want to have fun the next two days and see where that takes me,” added Tawit.
Truslow struggled with a slow start, dropping his first shot of the day on hole eight after missing a five-footer for par. He kept to his game plan to bounce back with four birdies in his back nine to move into contention.
“The first nine is a lot more difficult and I was playing fine just not making any putts. I knew if I kept playing the way I was playing I could make a few birdies on the back nine.
“I am chipping it well which helped me a lot today because I was able to take advantage of the holes I needed to. I’m pretty happy with my position right now its great to be in contention, it is what all of us play for,” said the American, who earned his Tour card at the 2019 Asian Tour Qualifying School.
Starting from the back nine, Prom traded three birdies for as many bogeys to turn in 35. He stayed bogey-free in his closing nine holes despite windier conditions, notching birdies on holes six and nine for an inward 33.
“I have been hitting it good the past two rounds. I made a couple of small mistakes here and there like on hole 12 when I bogeyed it from 75 yards, which was pretty disappointing,” said Prom.
“The wind started to pick up on the back nine so I was playing the holes differently but I played better on the back, probably because the temperature was cooler. I just hope I’ll be able to go lower the next two rounds,” added the two-time Asian Tour winner.
The halfway cut was set at one-over-par 141 with 50 players advancing to the final two rounds. Local prospect Qawiem Aslimon was the only Bruneian to make the cut following a 72.
The leading seven players on the final ADT Order of Merit will earn playing rights on the premier Asian Tour for the 2020 season.
All ADT events offer Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points. The winner will receive at least six OWGR points while the top six players and ties will also earn points based on a sliding scale.
The Organising Committee of the Butra Heidelberg Cement Brunei Championships has announced a charity drive through its “Birdies for Charity” program. Through the generous contributions of its donors, the program will receive B$10 for every birdie recorded during each round.
All pledges collected after four rounds will go directly to the Dana Pengiran Musa Mahkota Al-Muhtadee Billah for Orphans and the Pusat Ehsan Al-Ameerah Al-Hajjah Maryam.
Leading second round scores:
129 - Tawit Polthai 65 64
132 - Austen Truslow 65 67
134 - Casey O'Toole 65 69, Prom Meesawat 66 68, Wang Wei-lun 66 68, Lindsay Renolds 67 67, Itthipat Buranatanyarat 63 71, Sarit Suwannarut 66 68
135 - Poosit Supupramai 65 70, Suttijet Kooratanapisan 69 66, Naoki Sekito 68 67, Choo Tze Huang 70 65
136 - Shae Wools-Cobb 66 70, Miguel Carballo 70 66