Oct 18, 3:41 am

Young talent Sangpil Yoon of Korea edged closer to regaining his Tour card after posting a second round two-under-par 69 on Thursday to stay one shot off the pace at the Asian Tour Qualifying School Final Stage presented by Sports Authority of Thailand.

The 19-year-old Korean, who opened with a 68 at the Rayong Green Valley Country Club, stumbled with a triple-bogey on the second hole at the St. Andrews 2000 but recovered strongly with five birdies on his way home for a two-day total of five-under-par 137.

Yoon made the grade in his first attempt at the Asian Tour Qualifying School last year but failed to retain his card after finishing 131st on the 2017 Order of Merit. He hopes to play his way back onto the region’s premier Tour by breaking into top-35 and ties after the intense 90-hole battle this week.

Minkyu Kim, also of Korea, fired seven birdies against two bogeys for a 66 at the St. Andrews 2000 to grab the clubhouse lead on 136. The opening round of the Qualifying School Final Stage was earlier disrupted by a lengthy rain suspension on Wednesday which resulted in a total of 123 players returning to complete their rounds on Thursday morning.

With close to five hours of play lost and the day being called off at 6.00pm local time due to fading light, a total of 118 players will return at 7.00am on Friday to complete their second rounds with the third round slated to start not earlier than 10.00am.

Thai veteran and former five-time Asian Tour winner Thammanoon Sriroj rolled back the years by carding a commendable 66 to match the two-day efforts of Yoon while compatriot Sorachut Hansapiban returned with a 71 to stay a further shot back in 138.

The Final Stage of the Qualifying School, which features 243 players from over 30 different countries, will be played over five rounds (90 holes) across two courses. The leading 140 players and ties after 36 holes will make it into the next two rounds. The cut is projected to be at three-over-par 145.

After 72 holes, the field will be cut to the leading 70 players and ties who will then proceed to the fifth and final round held only at the Rayong Green Valley Country Club. At the conclusion of 90 holes, the top 35 players and ties will be ranked accordingly for the 2018 season.

Did you know?

  • Sangpil Yoon came through the First Stage of the Qualifying School last week after finishing tied-31st to merely make the cut-off mark at the St. Andrews 2000.
  • Yoon topped the class at the first stage of the 2017 Asian Tour Qualifying School held at the Windsor Park Golf Club in Bangkok last January. He then went on to finish tied-19th at the Final Stage last year to secure his Asian Tour card for the 2017 season.
  • Yoon is one of the 37 Korean players vying for playing rights on the Asian Tour at the Qualifying School Final Stage this week.
  • Thammanoon Sriroj, 48, turned professional in 1991 and is now a father of two. He has won five times on the Asian Tour but not since 2004. In 2015, he won his first Asian Development Tour (ADT) in Chinese Taipei.
  • Thammanoon marked his card with an eagle and five birdies against a double-bogey for a solid 66 at the Rayong Green Valley Country Club.
  • Thammanoon comes from a family of golfers, with five brothers being professional golfers as well.
  • Thammanoon grew up near a golf course in Chonburi and started playing the game in his early teens.
  • Sorachut Hansapiban is hoping to be third time lucky, after missing the grade at the Qualifying School in his last two attempts in 2016 and 2017.
  • The 27-year-old Sorachut has been plying his trade on the ADT since 2016 and has come close to winning on several occasions.

Players’ quotes:

Sangpil Yoon (Kor) – Second round 69 (-2) – St. Andrews 2000, Total 137 (-5): “I didn’t start well today. I made a triple-bogey on the second hole but I told myself not to let it affect my game. I was confident of making more birdies coming back. I got back to one-over-par after the front nine and my father told me I can make more on the back nine.

I felt confident over there and managed to pick up three more birdies on my way home. I got lucky with the par on my last hole. I chipped it in from about 10 feet at the right edge of the green. It was a good finish.

I played only 10 holes at the Rayong Green yesterday because of the suspension. I returned early this morning to complete the remaining eight holes where I made three birdies and made one bogey. It has been a long day, having played 26 holes today but I felt good with how I played.

I only had one hour to rest before heading out again. I didn’t start the second round well but I am happy with how I bounced back from it. The fairways are very wide at Rayong Green Valley but the greens are small.

Whereas at the St. Andrews 2000, the fairways are narrow and the greens are big. The two courses are very different so you need to have a good strategy out there.”

Thammanoon Sriroj (Tha) – Second round 66 (-5) – Rayong Green Valley CC, Total 137 (-5): “My tee shots and iron-play were very good today. I think that was the key to my 66. I hit one shot out of bounds today but other than that, I think I managed to hit all the fairways.

The playing conditions are better today compared to yesterday where we had the rain delay. I think the Rayong Green Valley Country Club is slightly easier compared to the St. Andrews course which has very tight fairways.

I eagled the 10th hole after chipping it in from about 40 feet. That was the highlight for me today. My game has been good so I thought I come and try out here this week. We have a very strong field. There are a lot of good and young players out here.

I will just play my own game and see what happens.”

Sorachut Hansapiban (Tha) – Second round 71 (even par) – St. Andrews 2000, Total 138 (-4): “I didn’t finish well today. I dropped two shots in my last three holes. But overall, I am still happy with where I stand. I came back this morning to finish my first round and sign for a 67.

I putted really well. I sank long putts on hole one, two and seven and chipped in from about 20 yards for birdie on hole eight. That gave me some confidence heading into the second round today.

This is my third time attempting the Qualifying School. I hope my past experiences will help me achieve a good score this week.”

Andrew Martin (Aus) – Second round 72 (+1) – St. Andrews 2000, Total 139 (-3): “I came back this morning to complete my first round and sign for a 67 which was good. This afternoon wasn’t bright. I was happy probably to get into the clubhouse with a 73. It’s been a long day. It has been pretty good so far. Three more rounds to go. I am hoping for some good golf to come.”

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