Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond shot an inspired course record 10-under-par 62 to take the lead at the halfway mark of the International Series Vietnam at KN Golf Links, in Cam Ranh, on the south-central coast of Vietnam.
Eight birdies, an eagle, and his second successive bogey-free round saw him move to 13 under par for the US$2 million event, which gave him a one-shot advantage over Kieran Vincent from Zimbabwe.
Vincent, younger brother of Scott Vincent, last year’s International Series Order of Merit winner returned a 65, while Japan’s Takumi Kanaya (64), Chapchai Nirat (65) from Thailand, Filipino Miguel Tabuena (67), Korea’s Taehee Lee (68), and overnight leader Bai Zhengkai (69) from China are one shot further back.
England’s Paul Casey, the event’s marquee player, shot a 64, 10 shots better than his first round, to get back in contention on six under for the tournament.
“I mean, it passes by pretty quick when you’re playing good,” said Jazz, who won the International Series Morocco last November for his first Asian Tour win in three years.
“I hit most of the fairways, most of the greens and holed some putts, that’s about it. I mean, this golf course is a risk and reward golf course, right? If you don’t miss the fairways, it’s not gonna punish you that bad. I only missed a couple of so far, so that’s why the score reflects that. I had a couple of close calls with the bogeys but managed to have some good putts and hole some big pars.”
The 27 year old’s performance is yet further evidence that his best form is returning, especially coming off the back of two joint sixth place finishes in the previous two Asian Tour events.
He said: “I mean, it’s close, right? Like finishing sixth or anywhere in the top 10 is so close to breaking through to the win. It’s just a very fine line to just jump across, so hopefully this is the week I jump across.”
The seven-time Asian Tour winner started his round on the 10th and caught fire starting from the 14th making three birdies and then an eagle, before also touring the front nine in 31 with five birdies.
Vincent, in only his second year in the professional game, was also bogey free, and after beginning on the first he made the turn in three under before a fantastic finish saw him birdie four of his last five holes, including 17 and 18.
He said: “It was good. It was enjoyable, had a good group out there. Just remained patient and just enjoyed my time, so it was a great day. Love being out here in Vietnam, first time here so just soaking it in.
“Obviously, you know, you look to start off fast but it’s all about the finish. And you know, that’s kind of the way I try and picture it, you know, a good strong start can get you in position but it’s the way you finish is how you’re going to actually finish up there on the leaderboard. So, I was just thankful that we had some good numbers, and we were able to kind of hit the targets that we aimed at, so lucky for that.”
The Zimbabwean made a brilliant birdie on par four last, getting up and down from a bunker 50 yards from the putting surface.
“It came out a little bit better than I expected,” he said.
“The ball was a little bit below the feet but lucky enough that it just kind of checked up on the green there, and actually ended up lipping out. So got a little lucky with the way it kind of panned out. But, you know, luckily, we were able to practice those. The green near the practice bunker here is about 40 yards, so I was lucky enough to get a decent amount of practice in before this.”
Takumi is making his first appearance on the Asian Tour since winning the International Series Oman in February – which saw him become the first player from his country to win on the Asian Tour.
“From playing in Oman and coming into this week, my overall game has felt great,” said the Japanese star.
“I’m really happy with my play over the last couple of days. Playing on the Asian Tour has been a fantastic experience, and I’m really looking forward to the weekend.
“Winning in Oman was the spark that gave me the confidence coming into this week, so winning again with a field as strong as this week’s will give me a lot of confidence going into the rest of the season.”
American Andy Ogletree, the current leader of the Asian Tour and International Series Order of Merit, carded a 68 and, like Casey, is six under, in a tie for 25th, with the tournament wide open heading into what will be an exciting weekend.
More information about the International Series Vietnam can be found by visiting: Asian Tour | Professional Golf Tour in Asia.
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