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ASIA’S NO. 1 THAWORN AND LAHIRI FIGHT BACK AT CIMB CLASSIC

Kuala Lumpur, October 26: Current Asian Tour number one Thaworn Wiratchant fought back with a second round of six-under-par 65 to give himself a chance of a strong finish at the US$6.1 million CIMB Classic on Friday.

The veteran Thai star, who opened with a 72 on Thursday, rattled in seven birdies against a lone bogey at the Mines Resort and Golf Club for a two-day total of five-under-par 137 in the event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGA Tour.

It moved him up to tied 23rd on the leaderboard, giving him a good chance to finish in the top-10 to earn valuable Official World Golf Ranking points.

Currently 84th in the world after amassing three wins on the Asian Tour this season, Thaworn hopes to crack into the top-50 by the end of the year which will earn him a start in the Masters Tournament next year and several other World Golf Championship events.

“I drove the ball good and putted really well. My irons were not really consistent as there were some bad shots during the round,” said Thaworn, who won the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit in 2005.

“Yesterday, we had to play the ball down but today, we had the preferred lie ruling which helps. In the first round, all my drives on the fairway collected mud and the ball just went left or right as you can’t clean the ball.”

Thaworn conceded it would be an uphill task to challenge for the CIMB Classic title which comes with a cool US$1.3 million cheque. However, he will be pushing hard to finish as high as possible on Sunday.

“I’m 84th in the world now and I’ve been thinking about trying to get into the top-50,” he said. “I just need to keep playing well week in, week out and the rankings will take care of itself. There are some big tournaments coming up with good points so I will try.

“Top-50 in the world will get players into the Masters Tournament which will be nice. I would like to play in that tournament.”

Playing in his ninth straight week, the 45-year-old is preserving his energy levels by taking it easy at the practice range. “I’m not practising much. I just hit some 30 or 40 balls on the range, chipping alone takes up 20 balls. I don’t want to waste my energy,” said Thaworn.

India’s Anirban Lahiri enjoyed a bogey-free 66 to also move to equal 23rd position, nine shots behind leader Robert Garrigus.

“I think I hit it much better. I hit it closer as well. Yesterday I hit a few bad shots that cost me bogeys off the tee. I putted very poorly yesterday, so I definitely putted better. But, again, I’d just say it was better. I hope I can putt good over the weekend,” said Lahiri, who is a  two-time winner on the Asian Tour.

The 25-year-old Lahiri, regarded as the new generation of stars to emerge from India, is confident he can continue his climb up the leaderboard at the CIMB Classic, which is celebrating its third edition this week.

“I have that self-belief that I can play on any tour in the world.  When I’m playing at my best, I can compete with the best.  But the thing is the consistency. That’s what I have to find more regularly over a long period of time, so that I can get my World Ranking points up and compete through all the big events, even the European and Asian Tour co sanctioned events through the year,” he said.

Korea’s Noh Seung-yul, the Asian Tour number one in 2010,and Gaganjeet Bhullar of India are also in tied 23rd position after rounds of 66 and 72 respectively.


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