Varanyu Holds Commanding Lead at Singha Laguna Phuket Open

Thailand’s Varanyu Rattanaphaibulkij maintained his position at the top with his second round of nine-under-par 61 at the Singha Laguna Phuket Open on Friday.

The 21-year-old Thai carded a flawless round with seven birdies and one eagle to lead the field by seven strokes on a 17-under-par 123 total at the THB2 million (approx. USD64,000) event co-sanctioned by the Asian Development Tour (ADT) and the All Thailand Golf Tour.

Compatriot Nitithorn Thippong proved relentless in his pursuit of a second ADT win when he returned with a solid round of 66 to take second-place on his own, while Sweden’s Oscar Zetterwall took third place following a 67 at Laguna Phuket.

Starting on the back nine, Varanyu eagled hole 14 after a good drive and solid approach with his five-iron left him with a three-footer tap-in. He made the turn at three-under after a birdie on 18 and would follow with six birdies for an inward 29.

“I was hitting everything solid and I played the three par-5s on this course very well and managed to hit the green in two shots on all of them. I enjoy playing this course and being on home ground. Especially since my mother is out here to watch me this week so I want to do well,” said Varanyu.

His low round which topped his opening 62, marked his lowest tournament round he achieved since he turned professional in 2015 and he credits his brother, nicknamed “Benz”, who is on his bag this week.

“I wasn’t nervous at all and I just stuck to my game plan of making fairways and greens. Benz and I were reading the lines well on the greens and I trusted him,” said Varanyu who is vying for a maiden win.

ADT winner Nitithorn mixed his card with six birdies and one double-bogey on the second hole when he pushed his eight-iron into the hazard.

“I was playing steady golf all day except for one missed shot. The pin was tucked in the right side and there was a hazard to the right of the green. I told myself to keep it short and hit it left but I pushed it right instead. But I made 16 greens today which was key for me and there were a lot of positives from the round,” said the 21-year-old.

Playing in the same group tomorrow, the Thai hotshot is ready to put up a good fight against his close friend Varanyu, who played junior golf with him before he joined the play-for-pay ranks.

“I am happy to be playing with him tomorrow since I haven’t seen him in a while. He is playing so well and I want to try and catch up with him tomorrow on moving day,” added Nitithorn.

The halfway cut was set at one-over-par 141 with a total of 57 players qualifying for the final two rounds.

The Singha Laguna Phuket Open is the eighth leg of the 2018 ADT schedule and the tour’s first stop in Thailand this year. Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points are offered on all ADT events with the winner earning a total of six OWGR points while the top-six players and ties earn points on a sliding scale.

The leading five players on the ADT Order of Merit at the end of the season will earn playing rights on the premier Asian Tour for the 2019 season.

Leading round two scores
123 – Varanyu RATTANAPHIBOONKIJ (THA) 62 61
130 – Nitithorn THIPPONG (THA) 64 66
131 – Oscar ZETTERWALL (SWE) 64 67
133 – Samarth DWIVEDI (IND) 65 68, Mathiam KEYSER (RSA) 66 67
135 – Worrasorn SUWANPANANG (THA) 68 67, Donlaphatchai NIYOMCHON (THA) 68 67, Simon YATES (SCO) 67 68, Chaiphat KOONMARK (THA) 70 65, Pawin INGKHAPRADIT (THA) 66 69

Varanyu shoots 62 and leads at Singha Laguna Phuket Open

Phuket, May 10: Thai prospect Varanyu Rattanaphaibulkij signed for a blistering eight-under-par 62 to grab the opening round lead at the Singha Laguna Phuket Open on Thursday.

The 21-year-old fired 10 birdies against two bogeys to hold a two-shot lead at the ฿2 million (approx. US$64,000) event co-sanctioned by the Asian Development Tour (ADT) event and the All Thailand Golf Tour.

Sweden’s Oscar Zetterwall trails by two shots to share second-place with newly-crowned ADT winner Nitithorn Thippong on matching 64s at the award-winning Laguna Golf Phuket.

Nicknamed “Bank” by his parents, the young Thai birdied six of his first seven holes before dropping a shot on hole nine, when he missed a two-footer for par. He recovered soon after with birdies on 10, 11, 14 and 17 but would drop another shot on 18.

“I am very happy with my round today, it is my lowest round in a professional tournament! I was hitting everything good today and making a lot of putts. I knew I was playing well but I wasn’t thinking about the score,” said Varanyu who only totalled 25 putts.

“The course is much tougher compared to last year. The rough is difficult to hit out of. My bogeys on holes nine and 18 were because I missed the fairway so it was tougher to find the green on the approach,” added the Thai who is vying for his maiden ADT win.

Starting on hole one, Zetterwall carded a blemish-free round with six birdies, highlighted by a near eagle on hole six. He credited his low round to his solid short game accompanied by consistent tee shots which kept his ball out of the thick rough.

“The course is pretty short but the key for me was to keep my ball in play and I was hitting my driver well today. I nearly had an eagle on hole six but my approach leaped out of the hole and ran off the green. I made the up-and-down for par which was the highlight of my round because I think I would have been pretty upset if I didn’t get to make the putt,” said the two-time ADT winner.

India’s Samarth Dwivedi sits at tied-fourth with American John Michael O’Toole after a 65 while Thailand’s Pawin Ingkhapradit and South African Mathiam Keyser are in sixth place on 66.

The Singha Laguna Phuket Open is the eighth leg of the 2018 ADT schedule and the tour’s first stop in Thailand this year. Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points are offered on all ADT events with the winner earning a total of six OWGR points while the top-six players and ties earn points on a sliding scale.

The leading five players on the ADT Order of Merit at the end of the season will earn playing rights on the premier Asian Tour for the 2019 season.

Leading round one scores
62 – Varanyu RATTANAPHIBOONKIJ (THA)
64 – Oscar ZETTERWALL (SWE) , Nitithorn THIPPONG (THA)
65 – Samarth DWIVEDI (IND) , John Michael O’TOOLE (USA)
66 – Pawin INGKHAPRADIT (THA) , Mathiam KEYSER (RSA)
67 – Simon YATES (SCO) , Supakrit RATTANAKAMPHOL (THA) , Puk PRADITTAN (THA)
68 – Hein SITHU (MYN) , Justin DE LOS SANTOS (USA) , Worrasorn SUWANPANANG (THA) , Tawan PHONGPHUN (THA) , Wisut ARTJANAWAT (THA) , Donlaphatchai NIYOMCHON (THA) , LOW Khai Jei (MAS) , Poom PATTAROPONG (THA)

Laguna Phuket Plans to Expand Golf Tournament

Laguna Phuket, the Thailand tourist island’s only fully integrated resort, has revealed plans for the upcoming Singha Laguna Phuket Open to become, eventually, as internationally well-known and inclusive as its acclaimed annual triathlon and marathon events.

Although only in its second iteration this year, the All Thailand Golf Tour event – to be held from May 10-13 – is guaranteed a wide following in Thailand and South East Asia through television coverage.

But Laguna Phuket’s managing director, Ravi Chandran, and assistant vice president and director of golf, Paul Wilson, have bigger long-range plans. In particular, they want to develop the professional tournament into a week-long celebration of golf that involves amateur players of all levels and abilities.

This will mean extending the current program of a pro-am on the Wednesday before the tournament and a “play like the pros” round on the day after its conclusion to a range of individual and team golf events for amateurs, spread over a week.

“The Laguna Phuket triathlon, which this year celebrated 25 years, and the marathon, being held in June for the 13th year, are highly-recognised events that attract thousands of participants and spectators from around the world,” Ravi Chandran explains.

“They have helped make Phuket an international sporting hub, with Laguna Phuket as the centrepiece. We believe the Singha Laguna Phuket Open can become equally well-known among golfers and be the third mantle in the island’s and resort’s sporting calendar.

“Many people remember the 2009 Thailand Open held at Laguna Phuket. Last year we successfully recaptured the interest from that event and this year, as Phuket’s only professional golf tournament, we aim to build on it further. The relationship with Singha as joint title sponsor is an excellent fit and we hope this also extends long into the future.”
Paul Wilson says the golf tournament can be expanded in coming years to include individual amateur and team events, similar to those organised around the triathlon and marathon.

“There are numerous short-distance, team and other activities associated with the triathlon and marathon,” he explains. “The full distance of both events attracts elite contestants and serious competitors from all over the world. But there are other shorter and less intense variations for people of all ages and abilities and we believe the golf tournament can be extended in a similar way.”

He says last year’s tournament resulted in increased tee-time bookings among locals and golfers from Thailand and the region and he expects the 2018 event will produce a similar uplift.

“The professional tournament is definitely raising our profile,” he adds. “We believe we can capitalise on this growing interest in many ways, both around the time of the event and at other times during the year.”

The 2018 Singha Laguna Phuket Open, with a THB2 million prize pool, will have a full field of 156 qualified professional and amateur male participants. As a joint-sanctioned Asian Development Tour event, it provides a pathway for aspiring golfers to develop their careers regionally and internationally.

For more information about the Singha Laguna Phuket Open, visit:
Laguna Golf Phuket: www.lagunagolf.com/phuket
All Thailand Golf Tour: www.allthailandgolftour.com
Asian Development Tour: www.asiandevelopmenttour.com
Asian Tour: www.asiantour.com