New Toy Story unfolds at Faldo Series Asia Grand Final
Hue, Vietnam (March 16): Rising Thailand star Napat Paramacharoenroj heeded the advice of Sir Nick Faldo to soar into contention at the 11th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final.
The 15-year-old – nicknamed Khun Toy – made light of breezy conditions to fire a four-under-par 67 over the Faldo Design layout at Laguna Lăng Cô in Danang.
That gave him a 36-hole total of five-under 137 and a share of the lead with Indonesian Jonathan Wijono and Chinese Taipei’s Liu Yung-hua going into tomorrow’s final round.
Overnight leader Mohammad Rasel of Bangladesh carded a 72 and is tied for fourth place with Indian Kartik Sharma and Australian Daniel Gale on 138 in The R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking event.
Six-time Major champion Sir Nick, who is hosting participants from 20 countries at the Laguna Lăng Cô resort this week, said: “With just one shot separating the leading six players it promises to be an exciting last day. It’s set up for a thrilling finish and I’m especially pleased that the top six represent six different countries.”
Also in contention on 140 are Naraadjie Emerald Ramadhan of Indonesia and Japan’s Yusuke Sakomoto.
Among the girls, only Chinese Taipei’s Hung Jo-hua (141) is in red figures. She is followed by New Zealand’s Amelia Garvey (142) and Malaysian Geraldine Wong and Japan’s Minori Nagano (both 143).
Winner of the inaugural Faldo Series Thailand Championship – South at Laguna Golf Phuket last September, scratch-handicapper Napat struck the ball beautifully today, snaring five birdies against a solitary bogey. The highlight was a chip-in from 45 feet at the par-four sixth while he ended the round in style, pitching to within inches of the cup for a tap-in birdie at the par-five 18th.
Napat, winner of his age-group at last year’s World Stars of Junior Golf Championship in Las Vegas, credited Sir Nick for his four-shot improvement from the opening day. “Sir Nick has been telling us to stay in the present and not get ahead of ourselves when we’re on the course. He said we must focus on the moment and concentrate on each shot. That’s what I tried to do,” said Napat, who attends the British International School in Phuket.
The plan worked well as Napat reached the turn in three-under 32. He added another birdie at the short 11th and looked set for a bogey-free round until his only wayward drive of the day cost him a shot at the 17th. Unfazed, he hit back instantly by repairing the damage at 18.
Wijono’s card was uncannily similar to that of Napat, a 67 with the only blemish coming at 17 where he three-putted from 20 feet. “I hit the ball solidly,” said the 16-year-old from Surabaya, whose best moment was a snaking 10-foot left-to-right birdie putt at 11.
Chinese Taipei’s Liu continued his steady play, adding a 68 to his first-round 69.
Bangladeshi Rasel, meanwhile, made another fast start, extending his overnight advantage thanks to birdies at three and four. From there, though, it became a struggle as he covered the remaining holes in three-over.
In contrast, Sharma and Gale enjoyed blistering finishes.
Sharma birdied 14, 15 and 18 to post a 67, while Gale blazed his way through the back nine in four-under 32 for a 68 that keeps him in the mix.
Supported by The R&A and endorsed by the Asian Tour and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the 2016-17 Faldo Series Asia campaign has stretched over 11 months.
As well as two events in China, India and Thailand, championships were staged in Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chinese-Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.
Recognised as the only global amateur series for boys and girls, the Faldo Series was established in 1996, expanding to Asia in 2006.
Today, 40 Faldo Series tournaments take place in 30-plus countries worldwide, touching more than 7,000 golfers each year. Past winners include Tseng Ya-ni and Rory McIlroy, both multiple Major winners.
Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, Leading Second Round Scores
137 – Liu Yung-hua (Chinese Taipei) 69-68. 138 – Mohammad Rasel (Bangladesh) 66-72; Daniel Gale (Australia) 70-68.
140 – Yusuke Sakamoto (Japan) 70-70
142 – Almay Rayhan (Indonesia) 71-71
144 – Jordan Woodall (New Zealand) 74-70
137 – Napat Paramacharoenroj (Thailand) 70-67; Jonathan Wijono (Indonesia) 70-67
138 – Kartik Sharma (India) 71-67
140 – Naraadjie Emerald Ramadhan (Indonesia) 68-72
141 – Hung Jo-hua (Chinese Taipei) 73-68
147 – Michela Tjan (Indonesia) 76-71
148 – Chen Hsuan (Chinese Taipei) 77-71
142 – Amelia Garvey (New Zealand) 74-68
143 – Geraldine Wong (Malaysia) 70-73; Minori Nagano (Japan) 72-71
For full scores click here.