BANGKOK (AFP) – Spanish veteran Miguel Angel Jimenez squeezed his way to the front of the pack at the Thailand Classic on Friday, picking up 11 birdies to take a one-shot overnight lead over local boy Kiradech Aphibarnrat.
The 51-year-old Jimenez – the oldest player in the field – got off to a flyer and birdied five of the first 12 holes, ending with a 66 for the day and 133 overall.
Kiradech led the chasers, with a five-under par 67 while another local favourite – Thongchai Jaidee – hit a tidy 66, to return to the clubhouse two shots off the pace at the $2 million co-sanctioned tournament in Hua Hin.
The day also brought joy for another Thai, Panuphol Pittayarat whose reward for a hole-in-one on the 14th par three was a four-storey townhouse worth $370,000 on the Black Mountain Golf Club resort.
It proved to be ample consolation for a disappointing round that saw him finish two over par and out off contention for the weekend cut.
Jimenez turned back the clock to blitz the field early on with a slew of birdies. He dropped a couple of shots on the back nine to reel him back into the pack, but the Spaniard remained ebullient at the end of a good day’s work.
“You’re always happy when you’re under-par and the more under-par you are, the happier you are,” said Jimenez.
Kiradech meanwhile was in determined form after a dismal showing at the season-opening Malaysian Open, closing at 10 under for the tournament so far and poised to go on the attack against the wily Jimenez on day three.
“I’ve been striking the ball well. I did not make too many mistakes and that’s a huge boost to my confidence,” he said after his round, according to an Asian Tour release.
“It’s not easy to beat an old guy like him,” he said of Jimenez.
“He hits the ball very far and is striking it very well. He’s a world-class player in my eyes,” said Kiradech.