Liang, Nirat rise, Phadungsil falls in India
Greater Noida, Delhi, India (Sports Network) - Wen-Chong Liang and Chapchai Nirat fired matching 6-under 66s on Friday to grab a share of the lead after two rounds of the Avantha Masters.
Overnight leader Chinnarat Phadungsil stumbled to a second-round 74 at Jaypee Greens Golf Club, allowing Liang and Nirat to vault into the top spot at 12- under 132 through 36 holes.
Both Liang and Nirat are seeking their second European Tour victory and first since 2007. That year, the former won the Singapore Masters, while the latter took home the TCL Classic title.
"I've learned to be patient and my playing experience from all over the world has taught me well," said Liang. "There are two more rounds to go and, hopefully, I can be atop the leaderboard like today."
Tommy Fleetwood (65), David Drysdale (67), Joonas Granberg (67) and Chawalit Plaphol (68) share third place at 10-under.
On Thursday, Thailand's Phadungsil used an inward 28 to grab a 5-stroke lead -- one shot shy of the European Tour first-round record. The 24-year-old failed to maintain his scorching pace a day later and fell into a tie for seventh at minus-9.
Adilson Da Silva (65), Scott Hend (68), Rahil Gangjee (66), Julien Quesne (66), Jaakko Makitalo (68) and India's Abhijit Singh Chadha (69) are also 9- under through 36.
Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee, the highest ranked player in the field at world No. 59, carded a 71 and finished two rounds on the cut line at 3-under.
Defending champion Jbe Kruger, who earned his first European Tour win at this event a year ago, shot even-par for the second straight day and failed to make the cut.
Phadungsil, a former European Tour Qualifying School graduate with three Asian Tour titles to his name, tallied eight birdies on Jaypee Greens' inward nine Friday, but he couldn't match the feat a day later.
Starting on the 10th tee, Phadungsil picked up a par before stumbling to a double bogey on the 11th. He bounced back with a birdie on the next, but a hat trick of bogeys followed. A par-birdie-bogey stretch closed the disappointing outward nine, and another bogey on the first knocked Phadungsil out of the lead.
Drysdale was there to claim the top spot, as the 37-year-old Scot notched four birdies during his front nine to make the turn at 9-under. He added another birdie on the back to stay on top, but Liang and Nirat had yet to make their respective moves.
"I got through the turn today at nine under and expected to be four or five behind at that point after the lad shooting 11-under yesterday, but saw he had come back to the field so that was a pleasant surprise," said Drysdale.
Starting at the 10th, both Liang and Nirat used stellar closing runs to jump in front.
Liang carded four birdies and a pair of bogeys over his first nine holes to make the turn at 8-under. He began his bogey-free inward stretch with three birdies in four holes and, after a string of pars, birdied the ninth to hit the clubhouse with the lead.
"I have played some of my best golf this week and I managed to hole several long putts," added Liang.
Nirat, who teed off shortly after Liang, also closed with a bogey-free stretch after carding three birdies and a bogey over his first nine holes.
Making the turn at minus-8, Nirat birdied the second and the fifth, then turned trick again at Nos. 7 and 8 to reach 12-under.
"I played very well indeed," he said. "This is a very long course and I managed to hit the balls long the last two days. I also managed to hole several long putts as well and luck did play a part in getting me to my position today."
NOTES: Nirat won the Asian Tour's SAIL Open with a record 32-under-par total in 2009 ... Drysdale is seeking his first European Tour win in almost 300 starts ... S.S.P. Chowrasia, who won this event in 2008 and 2011, is 4-under through 36 holes ... The tournament is being held at Jaypee Greens Golf Club for the first time. DLF Golf & Country Club staged the event the previous three years ... This event is tri-sanctioned between the European Tour, the Asian Tour and Professional Golf Tour of India ... Last year, Kruger fired weekend rounds of 66 and 69 to win by two strokes over Marcel Siem and Jorge Campillo. Kruger ended the event at 14-under-par 274.
03/15 09:57:19 ET