Hot Quiban wavers at finish, shares lead

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Justin Quiban reacts to a shot in the second round at the Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club. AFP

MANILA, Philippines — Justin Quiban fired a six-under 66 despite a bogey-bogey finish as he shared the lead with Thais Phachara Khongwatmai and Arnond Vongvanij halfway through the $1 million Resorts World Manila Masters at the Manila Southwoods in Carmona, Cavite yesterday.

It was a sorry windup for the young Filipino shotmaker, who had taken the cudgels for the local top guns with a stirring backside 31 start and a three-birdie splurge after seven holes at the front to wrest control by two at 14-under overall. But just when he thought he had the Masters course all figured out, he bogeyed the last two holes.

But his 66 proved enough to put him on top of the leaderboard at 132 with Khongwatmai, who sizzled with a bogey-free 65, and Vongvanij, who shot a 67, as the troika took a two-stroke lead over India’s Jyoti Randhawa, who matched the tournament-best eight-under 64, and five others.

“I understand how I swing the ball better now as I had a big swing change the last couple of years and it’s coming together nicely now. I just have to keep playing against the course and do what I’ve been doing,” said Vongvanij, seeking to end his five-year title drought on the Asian Tour.

Also pooling 10-under cards are Thais Natipong Srithong (67) and Prom Meesawat (69), American Jarin Todd (66), and Arjun Atwal (67) and SSP Chawrasia (68) of India.

Khongwatmai rattled off four birdies at the back where he teed off and added three more at the front, including back-to-back closing feats to catch Vongvanij at the helm at 12-under 132 as the elite field continued to pound the Masters layout with a run of under-par scores.

Khongwatmai preserved his superb round with four scrambling pars.

Vongvanij, who shot a solid 65 in the first round to trail Scott Barr of Australia and American-Korean Micah Shin by one, kept his bogey-free charge with five birdies in the first 12 holes, took his first bogey on the par-3 13th but recovered the stroke with a birdie on the 16th to turn in a 67.

They grabbed a two-shot lead over another Thai Natipong Srithong, who carded a second 67 for a 134 in a tie with American Jarin Todd, who fired a 66, and India’s Jyoti Randhawa, who turned in the day’s best 64, also a bogey-free 32-32 capped by two saved pars.

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