Prom muscles his way ahead at Avantha Masters

Gurgaon: Thailand’s Prom Meesawat thrived under chilly conditions and made one of the biggest moves with a flawless eight-under-par 64 to stay two shots back of Scottish leader Peter Whiteford after the second round the Avantha Masters on Friday.

Whiteford, who took a share of the opening round lead, continued to cement his position atop the leaderboard with a 68 while Thailand’s Chapchai Nirat had a closing eagle-three to thank for giving him a share of third place alongside compatriot Kiradech Aphibarnrat, France’s Jean-Baptiste Gonnet and Australia’s Kieran Pratt after they signed for matching 137s at the DLF Golf and Country Club.

Three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand battled to a 70 to remain in contention with a tied-seventh place together with eight other players that include leading Indians Shamim Khan and Anirban Lahiri at the Avantha Masters, which is richest tournament staged in India, thanks to its €1.8 million prize fund.

While others were trying to keep themselves warm in the morning cold which dipped to a low of 11 degrees Celsius, Prom took advantage of the chill to storm up the leaderboard with eight birdies that included five in his last six holes.

“Everything is going well and it’s good. It was very cold in the first three holes but it got better when the sun came up and that’s when I took off my jumper. I like the cold better than the hot and humid weather as I tend to perspire a lot,” said Prom, a one-time winner on the Asian Tour.

Prom, who is seeking to end a six-year title drought since his last win in Korea in 2006, also credited his regular visits to the gym for making him physically stronger.

“I’ve been working very hard in the off season by going to the gym. People said that I’ve lost weight but I don’t think so. I still weight the same and I think I’ve bulked up a lot because of my muscles. I’m getting stronger and more consistent,” said Prom.

Whiteford, meanwhile had to battle through the cold and was relieved that an eagle-three on the sixth hole brought back the self-confidence and allowed him to retain pole position at the Avantha Masters, which is tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, European Tour and PGTI.

“It was freezing cold this morning and it’s a lot harder. But once it warmed, I started to play a bit better and gave myself a few chances,” said Whiteford.

“I had a good eagle on the sixth which kick-started me a bit to finish well. I was disappointed not to finish with a birdie. It wasn’t a very good finish, but not a disaster,” added the Scot who is seeking his maiden win.

Thai players continued to feature prominently on the leaderboard with Chapchai marking his card with four birdies, an eagle and two bogeys to maintain his bid for his fourth Asian Tour win.

“I was swinging very well today and it felt so good to end the round with an eagle. I like to be in contention and I’m glad that I’m in a good position heading into the weekend,” said Chapchai.

Thongchai also kept up the Asian challenge by mixing five birdies against two bogeys to stay in touch with the leaders.

“I didn’t play as well as I did yesterday but overall it has been a good day considering the morning conditions that we had to play in,” said Thongchai.

“It was freezing and I managed to warm up from the seventh hole and that’s when I got into my rhythm. I had five birdies and three bogeys which was not bad,” added the 13-time Asian Tour winner.

A total of 67 players made the cut which was set at even-par.

Two-time Major winner, John Daly withdrew from the Avantha Masters due to an elbow injury while 2004 British Open champion Todd Hamilton of the United States bowed out after a two-day total of 153.

Leading scores after round 2 of the AVANTHA MASTERS 2012 being played at the par 72, 7156 Yards DLF GCC course:
134 - Peter WHITEFORD (SCO) 66-68.
136 - Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 72-64.
137 - Jean-Baptiste GONNET (FRA) 68-69, Chapchai NIRAT (THA) 70-67, Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA) 68-69, Kieran PRATT (AUS) 71-66.
138 - Soren HANSEN (DEN) 70-68, Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 68-70, Jamie DONALDSON (WAL) 68-70, Gregory HAVRET (FRA) 68-70, Marcus FRASER (AUS) 69-69, Marcel SIEM (GER) 69-69, Shamim KHAN (IND) 70-68, Thorbjorn OLESEN (DEN) 71-67, Anirban LAHIRI (IND) 69-69.

Selected scores
144 - Mardan MAMAT (SIN) 70-74, SIDDIKUR (BAN) 71-73, LIANG Wen-chong (CHN) 72-72