Higa stays in charge at the Thongchai Jaidee Foundation 2019

Fri 15 Feb 2019

Higa stays in charge at the Thongchai Jaidee Foundation 2019

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Lopburi, Thailand, February 15: Japan’s Kazuki Higa signed for a three-under-par 67 to stay ahead of the chasing pack at the halfway stage of the Thongchai Jaidee Foundation 2019 on Friday.

The 23-year-old Higa compiled a two-day total of nine-under-par 131 to hold a one-shot advantage over Soomin Lee of Korea (66) in second place at the ฿4million (approximately US$123,000) event.

Local prospect Sadom Kaewkanjana posted a 67 to share the third spot on a 134 total with countrymen Kosuke Hamamoto (65) while Itthipat Buranatanyarat (69) and Natthapong Niyomchon (70) took tied-fifth at the 13th Military Circle Golf Course, the venue where tournament host Thongchai Jaidee grew up playing on.

Higa, who claimed his maiden ADT victory in Bangladesh last year, was happy to put up another decent round despite struggling with a cold putter. He dropped his first shot of the tournament on hole 11 but would recover quickly with a birdie on hole 12.

“My putting wasn’t very good today and my round would have been even better if I rolled in more putts,” said the Japanese, who totalled 30 putts in the second round.

Higa found some momentum in his back nine where he grabbed birdies on holes one, three, six and seven before dropping another shot on his last hole.

“I am striking my irons well which is helping me stay of trouble on this course. I played better on the second nine and hit it close on a lot of holes. Hole nine is a very tough hole so I am happy to take a bogey and walk away,” added Higa.

The 25-year-old Lee, a one-time European Tour winner, had his solid iron-play to thank for his second round where he traded six birdies against two bogeys.

“I am striking my irons well and most of my birdies were tap-ins. I started with two birdies in a row on hole 10 and 11 and both of them were inside five-feet. I hit every green on the front nine and didn’t make too many mistakes,” said the Korean.

Playing on an invitational spot this week, Lee hopes to carry his consistent momentum into the weekend rounds.

“I got an invitation from Thongchai to play in the event this week so I decided to play this week since I train in Thailand over the winter season and my home is just an hour away from this golf course. I just hope I can continue this pace into the weekend,” said Lee, who resides in Seoul.

The halfway cut was set at two-over-par 142 with 57 players advancing to the weekend rounds.

The Thongchai Jaidee Foundation 2019, jointly-sanctioned by the All Thailand Golf Tour and the ADT, was inaugurated in 2015 with the intention of providing more playing opportunities for the region’s rising stars as well as to draw attention to Thongchai’s charitable foundation.

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 six OWGR points while the top six players and ties will also earn points based on a sliding scale.

Leading second round scores:

131 - Kazuki Higa 64 67

132 - Soomin Lee 66 66

134 - Sadom Kaewkanjana 67 67, Kosuke Hamamoto 69 65

136 - Itthipat Buranatanyarat 67 69, Natthapong Niyomchon 66 70

Ends.

About Asian Development Tour

The Asian Development Tour was launched in 2010 with the aim of creating a career pathway for professional golfers in Asia. Sanctioned by the Asian Tour, the Asian Development Tour will ultimately create a new playing platform for emerging stars from across Asia and around the world. Through the Asian Tour Qualifying School, players will qualify for the Asian Development Tour and enjoy the opportunity to hone their games and talent through a secondary circuit in Asia. Designed in the same structure as the Web.com Tour in America and European Challenge Tour, the Asian Development Tour is a stepping stone to the Asian Tour and the exciting world of international golf. The Asian Development Tour has been structured to ensure the best opportunities for its members. The leading five players on the Asian Development Tour will earn coveted Asian Tour cards for the following season, ensuring a proper career pathway for aspiring professionals. All ADT events receive Official World Golf Ranking points.