Local knowledge puts Laguna pro in comfort zone, but two Thais could change the equation
Scott Barr went out to meet The Beast yesterday morning, focused on keeping his nose clean.
That's what the World Classic course at Laguna National Golf and Country Club has come to be known.
It is unpredictable and difficult to tame.
On Thursday, the Australian shot six birdies against four bogeys to sneak into the top of the US$750,000 ($1.05m) World Classic Championship leaderboard with three others.
Making at least par in Round 2 was the aim. The birdies came only twice, in the second and 18th, and were levelled off with as many bogeys in the par-fours of the fifth and 14th.
With a two-under 140 total, it was enough to keep the Laguna National pro at the top, all by himself this time, ahead of Malaysia's Nicholas Fung by a stroke.
The target was met, but Round 2 is not over yet.
Play was halted for the second straight day because of fading light and Chinnarat Phadungsil and Natipong Srithong are hot on Barr's heels.
The Thai pair are at three under, with six and seven holes left to play, respectively, and will complete their rounds this morning with 64 others.
It will be a hectic schedule for the pair and playing in the front nine, they face bogey traps in the fourth and fifth holes.
Barr is hoping that everything will conspire to play into his hands.
"It may affect them with a bit of fatigue," said the 43-year-old Australian.
"It may play a part but it is not much of a factor because it is going to be a long day on a tough course.
"And the fifth is a difficult hole. It is a very small target and tricky."
Fatigue is not something Chinnarat believes will affect his game today. He is out to have a relaxing time on the course and take things as they come.
Said the Thai: "I don't think fatigue will affect my game. I just want to play and have some fun at the same time.
"I am going to go out there and do my best because this course is difficult and very unpredictable.
"I had some good shots and hope to continue putting them out for the rest of the tournament."
Natipong's plan is to do well at Laguna National and hopefully qualify for the Asian Tour next year. And he thinks he will remain at the top before the end of Round 3 today.
"That is the plan and not to lose momentum and do better than the three under I've got now," he said.
"Yesterday, every shot I took, it was good and ended the day two under. This is a difficult course and I am taking it easy before hitting every shot."
Singaporeans had a bad day at the office. Only three players, Choo Tze Huang (five over), Jonathan Woo (six over) and Mitchell Slorach (six over) hold any hope of making the cut.
Mardan Mamat (nine over) and Lam Chih Bing (11 over) could not tame The Beast and are not expected to feature after today.
The Singapore flag, it seems by proxy, will be flown by Barr.
Based in Singapore, he has that intimate knowledge of the course that can keep him at the top right up to the end.
"Having a bit of local knowledge is going to help me for sure," said Barr.
"I know the course better than most players but I still have to hit the good shots.
"But anyone at this stage can still win on this course. You can have dramatic stuff pretty quickly.
"But there are a lot of birdies on it if you are playing well. It is still anyone's game but, as far as I am concerned, I am comfortable where I am at."
- The writer is a freelancer.
(selected completed scores):
- 140: Scott Barr (Aus) 69-71.
- 141: Nicholas Fung (Mas) 74-67.
- 142: Namchok Tantipokhakul (Tha) 71-71, Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) 71-71, Siddikur Rahman (Ban) 71-71.
- 143: Miguel Tabuena (Phi) 70-73.
- 144: Josh Younger (Aus) 73-71, Rashid Khan (Ind) 75-69, Thaworn Wiratchant (Tha) 76-68.
- 145: Kim Chan (US) 77-68, Chapchai Nirat (Tha) 76-69, Panuphol Pittayarat (Tha) 72-73, Terry Pilkadaris (Aus) 74-71, Adilson Da Silva (Bra) 74-71, George Gandranata (Ina) 74-71, Niclas Johansson (Swe) 71-74.
- 146: Chikka S. (Ind) 76-70, Jbe Kruger (Rsa) 72-74, Abhijit Chadha (Ind) 72-74.
- 147: Peter Erofejeff (Fin) 75-72, Thitiphun Chuayprakong (Tha) 73-74, Lu Wei-chih (Tpe) 74-73, Jyoti Randhawa (Ind) 79-68, Seukhyun Baek (Kor) 74-73, Kim Bong Sub (Kor) 76-71.