Pariya Junhasavasdikul edged into the lead after the halfway stage of the Asia-Pacific Panasonic Open in Japan when he sank a clutch birdie putt on the last hole yesterday.
The Thai, who started from the 10th tee, struggled to get his round going and needed a 15-footer birdie putt to send him to the top of the leaderboard at the Ibaraki Country Club near Osaka, Japan.
He posted a one-under 70 to hold a one-shot lead from overnight leader Shingo Katayama of Japan, who struggled to a 73 at the event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour.
Tetsuji Hiratsuka of Japan, who won the 2011 showpiece, battled to a 66 to share third place with countryman Masahiro Kawamura.
Rory Hie (69) of Indonesia was a further shot back alongside Song Young-han (69) and Park Sung-joon (67) of South Korea, Yoshikazu Haku (66) of Japan and Brad Kennedy (66) of Australia.
Taiwan’s Lu Wei-chih was tied for 33rd place after a 71 gave him a one-over total of 143.
Fellow Taiwanese Chan Yih-shin and amateur Lee Chieh-po both missed the cut, which was set at 145.
Pariya, ranked 15th on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, bogeyed three and six to slip down the leaderboard, but bounced back brilliantly after some coaxing from his caddy.
“I left three or four putts short in my round, so on the last hole my caddy told me that I needed to hole the putt or he will throw me in the water,” the Thai jokingly told organizers. “I thought I had left it short again, but luckily it trickled into the hole.”
Additional reporting by staff writer