A rock-steady Lin Wen-tang of Chinese Taipei fired a four-under-par 67 in gusty conditions to grab the second round clubhouse lead at the inaugural US$1.5 million Ho Tram Open on Friday.
Lin, a six-time Asian Tour winner, overcame a wind-swept day at The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip by shooting six birdies against two bogeys for a two-day aggregate of 10-under-par 132 in the richest full-field Asian Tour event.
American David Lipsky, the reigning Order of Merit champion, was two shots back in second place after negotiating 11 holes in two under before play was suspended at 5.35pm due to darkness.
Strong gusts in the afternoon, which reached up to 25mph and moved golf balls on the greens, forced officials to suspend play for two hours. Fifty eight players will now return on Saturday, 6.30am to complete their remaining holes.
World number 12 Sergio Garcia, who was two under through 12 holes, lies three back of Lin alongside Thai veteran star Thaworn Wiratchant, who was even par through 13 holes. India’s Himmat Rai shared third place with them after returning a fine 69 for a 135 total.
Lin was unexpectedly greeted by strong winds in his morning round but he stayed in control of his game in what is Vietnam’s richest sporting event. “Who said there is no wind in the morning?” laughed the 42-year-old Lin, who hasn’t won in two years. “The wind was definitely blowing stronger than yesterday afternoon.
“For five holes, there was no wind. But it started to pick up after that. It was crazy windy but I birdied two holes (on six and eight) to close my round, so that was good. I had some putts which I struck well but the wind blew my ball off track.”
Two bogeys on 10 and 11 ended Lipsky’s day on a sour note after he brilliantly turned in 31 but the American remained confident of staying in the hunt for a third Asian Tour victory.
“The wind was ridiculous. This is probably the strongest wind conditions that we play in all year on the Asian Tour,” said Lipsky. “I chipped in twice (for birdies on two and four) so my good start involved a little bit of luck. If you hit good shots, you get rewarded.”
Rai, whose lone Asian Tour title came in 2011, fired four birdies which included three in a row from the fifth hole to move into contention at the Ho Tram Open, dubbed Asia’s Grandest Stage.
“It was just guess work out there. It was pretty hard. Making pars become tough, especially on the par fives which doesn’t happen often. It was sometimes a four club difference (in the wind),” said the 28-year-old Indian, who has been without a top-10 since the start of 2013.
Veteran Thaworn overcame a double bogey on the par three fifth hole with birdies on five and 13 before play was suspended. “It’s very good for me to be even par. When I address my putts, the wind is blowing hard and making it unstable for me,” said the 18-time Asian Tour winner.
With five top-10s this year, American left-hander Paul Peterson scrambled to a 70 to set up another crack at winning a first Asian Tour title. “I feel like I haven’t had a break out here. The score showed yesterday that they had better scoring conditions in the morning so when I woke up this morning, I thought let’s take advantage of the course but I don’t think the wind gave us that opportunity,” said Peterson.
Overnight leader Charlie Wi of Korea, who opened with a course record 62, was five over through 13 holes of his second round, falling to four-under-par for the tournament.
Since opening in October 2014, the links-style layout located two hours southeast of Ho Chi Minh City has been hailed by many of the world’s leading authorities on golf. In January, GOLF Magazine named it one of the world’s best new courses. In July, the Australian Financial Review called it “as pretty a course as you’ll find on the entire Asian continent. Last month it was named the World’s Best New Course at the World Golf Awards ceremony in Portugal.
Scores after round 2 of the Ho Tram Open being played at the par 71, 6,797 Yards The Bluffs Ho Tram Strip course (am – denotes amateur):
132 – LIN Wen-tang (TPE) 65-67.
135 – Himmat RAI (IND) 66-69.
136 – Paul PETERSON (USA) 66-70.
138 – Sam CYR (USA) 69-69, Terry PILKADARIS (AUS) 71-67.
139 – Andrew RAITT (ENG) 73-66, Simon Yates (SCO) 73-66, Geoff OGILVY (AUS) 69-70.
140 – Kalle SAMOOJA (FIN) 68-72, Masahiro KAWAMURA (JPN) 72-68, Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 69-71, Anthony KANG (USA) 71-69, Akinori TANI (JPN) 71-69, Adilson DA SILVA (BRA) 69-71.
141 – Pavit TANGKAMOLPRASERT (THA) 71-70, Wolmer MURILLO (VEN) 69-72, Namchok TANTIPOKHAKUL (THA) 72-69, Phachara KHONGWATMAI (THA) 72-69, Oliver WILSON (ENG) 70-71, Andrew DODT (AUS) 69-72, Mardan MAMAT (SIN) 72-69, Berry HENSON (USA) 68-73.
(58 players to complete round 2 on Saturday morning)