India’s Himmat Rai and Filipino hope Jay Bayron shared the halfway lead at the ICTSI Philippine Open yesterday, with both players chasing their maiden Asian Tour victory.
Rai posted a two-under-par 70 to tie with Bayron, who returned with a 69, on a two-day total of six-under-par 138 in the US$300,000 event held at the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club.
Rookies Berry Henson of the US and Daisuke Kataoka of Japan were a stroke back with South Africa’s Jbe Kruger, who finished second three times last year.
Thailand’s Panuphol Pittayarat bounced back from two opening bogeys with a solid 69 to lie in sixth place, two strokes from the leaders.
Rai, 23, was on seven-under after 15 holes, but swirling winds threw him off track when he dropped his second bogey of the day on the 16th hole.
“It was hot out there and the wind picked up later in the afternoon. The wind was swirling, but I managed my shots well to give myself a chance in the weekend,” Rai said.
Bayron fired four birdies against one bogey, with the highlight of his round coming on the 14th hole when his eagle attempt from 97 yards out stopped mere inches from the cup.
He was introduced to the game of golf at the age of 13 when he caddied in a local golf club.
“This is a very difficult golf course and I’m very surprised to shoot six-under after two rounds. Winning on the Asian Tour, especially my national Open, will be a dream come true,” the 32-year-old said.
Henson, 31, continued his rich vein of form.
He was delighted to be in the mix when he made an up-and-down par save on the 17th hole after his tee shot found the fairway bunker.
“I felt like I escaped with my score. If I can get my putter going, I will be dangerous in the weekend,” Henson said.
Thailand’s rising star Panuphol kept his emotions intact after two early bogeys and was rewarded with five birdies as he returned with 69.