Thongchai Jaidee endured a rollercoaster second day at the UBS Hong Kong Open but stayed in contention for both the tournament and the Asian Tour Order of Merit crown.
The Thai star mixed six birdies with four bogeys at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling on Friday to card his second successive 68, leaving him on four under for the tournament, five shots behind leader Rick Gibson.
Thongchai would even have kissed his tournament chances goodbye but for a brilliant finish to his round that saw him sink four successive birdies.
After teeing off on the 10th, the reigning Order of Merit champion was in trouble immediately. “I started with a bogey on 10 when I hit my second shot into the water,” he explained.
“Then I three-putted the 14th for another bogey – it was a birdie chance from four feet and I three-putted! After that I made birdie on 16 which was a good comeback but I bogeyed the first hole again. I was thinking, ‘What’s going on?’
“I hit it good towards the end and had four birdies to finish. I thought an even par score today would be a good score as I struggled early on. I holed a 30 foot birdie putt on the ninth, my last hole, so I was happy with that.”
Thongchai needs a top-three finish to stay in with a chance of catching compatriot Thaworn Wiratchant at the top of the Order of Merit standings.
He trails Thaworn – who also returned a 68 to stand at three under – by US$78,970 with just one tournament remaining after the UBS Hong Kong Open.
“Thaworn is very strong now, everything seems perfect for him,” said Thongchai. “He’s driving well, hitting his irons well and he is the best putter around. I hope to catch up with him and take it to the finish next week. I have two more days.”