STA. ROSA, Laguna – Tawit Polthai checked an alarming skid with birdies in the last two holes to salvage a four-over 76 and barely hang on to the clubhouse lead after 36 holes of the Solaire Philippine Open.
Faring far worse in the second round at the daunting The Country Club layout was Juvic Pagunsan who, hard-pressed to come up with a big rebound after an opening 77 on Wednesday, instead headed the other way.
The country's top pro dropped six strokes right on his first hole at the par-5 10th and never came cose to making the halfway cut in the $500,000 championship.
Pagunsan bogeyed three of the next five holes, dropped two strokes on the par-3 17th, double-bogeyed No. 1 and made two more bogeys against a lone birdie in the next five to finish with an atrocious 86.
He finished with a 19-over 163 - unlikely stint for a player who went to the event oozing with confidence following a seven-stroke romp in ICTSI Riviera Challenge.
After bucking tough conditions in a late start for a solid 67 in the first round, Polthai groped for form in one of the early flights of the day, bogeying the first two holes at the back and spending the rest of the round scrambling to save par.
The Bangkok native failed on the first but his closing back-to-back birdies from No. 8 enabled him to keep his hold of the lead at one-under 143 albeit provisionally with half of the starting 131-player field still to complete play at presstime.
Keanu Jahns, who hit a late eagle on No. 8 to rescue a 73 in the first round, crowded Polthai with four birdies against two birdies after 13 holes. But the Fil-German shotmaker bogeyed three of the last five to end up with a one-over card for a 146.
Thai Nirun Sae Ueng likewise produced a four-over total after another 73 with Peter Stojanovski of Macedonia also matching that output with a gutsy 72 while PGT Asia CAT Open champion James Ryan Lam fought back from a triple-bogey on No. 5 with three straight birdies from No. 6 but holed out with a bogey for a 73 and a 148 in a tie with Thai Chonlatit Chuenboonngam, who fumbled with a 76 and England’s Joshua Grenville-Wood, who fired a 72.
Others with completed 36-hole rounds were Aussie Nathan Park (77-152), Thai Chawalit Plahpol (75-152) and Dutch Guido Van der Valk (76-152) while Cookie La’O, who put in an impressive 72 in the first round, skied to an 80 to drop to the 152 group.
Only the top 65 plus will advance to the final 36 holes.