Supakorn soars to King's Cup lead

Thailand’s Supakorn Utaipat continued his dream run at the US$500,000 King’s Cup when he signed for a five-under-par 67 to take the second round lead on Friday.

Golf News: Supakorn Utaipat

In what is only his second start on the Asian Tour, the 22-year-old outshone the illustrious names by compiling a two-day total of 13-under-par 131 to take a two-shot advantage over the chasing pack heading into the weekend rounds.

Singapore’s Mardan Mamat carded a 70 to take a share of second place alongside England’s Chris Rodgers and defending champion Udorn Duangdecha of Thailand at the Singha Park Khon Kaen Golf Club.

Chinese Taipei’s Chiang Chen-chih made one of the biggest moves with an impressive 64 to take a share of fifth place with compatriot Lin Wen-tang, Australia’s Wade Ormsby, Philippines’ Elmer Salvador as well as Thailand’s Boonchu Ruangkit and Prom Meesawat at the King’s Cup, which is the third last event on the 2012 Asian Tour Schedule.

While he is delighted with his lead, Supakorn admitted that he is feeling the pressure ahead of the weekend rounds.

“This is only my second start on the Asian Tour and honestly I’m feeling nervous as I’ve never been in this position before,” said Supakorn who missed the cut in first Asian Tour event at the Queen’s Cup in June.

Supakorn, who turned professional this year, is hoping that his caddy will help to steady his nerves as he mounts his assault for the King’s Cup.

“Hopefully my caddy will calm me down and help me make the right decisions over the weekend. We have a good partnership and I’ll talk to him constantly to make sure everything goes according to plan,” said Supakorn.

After enjoying one of his best ever starts on the Asian Tour with an opening 63, Mardan continued his charge towards his fourth Tour title even though he could not match his first round heroics.

“I played pretty well in my first-nine. I hit some good shots and managed to hole some putts but in my second-nine, I didn’t hit my irons as close to the pin for birdie opportunities. But having said that, I’m still happy by just being able to come back with an under-par score,” said Mardan.

With the quality of the playing field too close to call, Mardan believes that the winner will the one who passes the mental test.

“I feel that whoever handles the pressure better will win this week’s tournament. I cannot control what others think, I can only control my own emotions and I’ve to focus on what I have to do. After almost two decades of playing experience, I should be able to handle that pressure well,” said Mardan.

Meanwhile Rodgers, who enjoyed an opening 64, is optimistic that he will maintain his position among the leaders with his relaxed frame of mind.

“I’m not sure how you are supposed to follow up on a 64. I tried to do it again but it was not that easy. I had a couple of bogeys which was silly. I maintained my 100% fairways hit and making those bogeys were a bit poor,” said Rodgers, who marked his card with three bogeys against six birdies.

“The most important thing is to have fun when you play and I think that’s going to be an asset for me on Sunday,” added the Englishman.

Meanwhile Chiang’s 64 brought back his self-belief which has been lacking in his game for a long time.

After a career high where he won his maiden Asian Development Tour title on home soil last year, Chiang has only managed to make the cuts twice in 10 starts this season.

It is not a record that he is proud of, but after putting himself into a good position again, Chiang is hopeful that he can count himself as a genuine contender.

“I’ve been struggling all season but today’s result has given me lots of hope. I’m slowly beginning to rediscover my form which is great. I’m showing improvements in my game and hopefully I can finish within the top-five so that I can have the opportunity to play again next week,” said Chiang.

The cut was set at three-under with a total of 70 players making it into the weekend rounds.

The King’s Cup is making its return after a year’s absence following the floods in Thailand last year and is already enjoying a welcome revival with its prize fund increasing to US$500,000 this year.

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