Cool customer Nirat takes over at the the top

11/9/2012 3:09:28 AM
Chapchai Nirat  (Getty Images)
Chapchai Nirat (Getty Images)

Two birdies in his last three holes enabled former monk Chapchai Nirat to storm to the top of the leaderboard on the second day of the weather-affected Barclays Singapore Open.

With half the field unable to complete their opening round due to lightning on day one, Nirat carded three birdies on his return to Sentosa Golf Club to leapfrog the overnight leader Thomas Björn of Denmark.

Nirat is no stranger to feats of low scoring, having set a new world 72-hole scoring record with a stunning 32 under par aggregate winning total at the 2009 SAIL Open on the Asian Tour.

Three under par for his first six holes on the Serapong Course overnight, the 29 year old picked up shots at the eighth, 16th and 18th holes to finish on six under par.

The Thai ace, whose only European Tour title came back at the TCL Classic in 2007, had a putt for eagle at the par five last, but had to settle for a two-putt birdie and a one shot lead over Björn.

Nirat, whose wife Pelinda is eight months pregnant with their second child, said: “I’ve been having problems with my putting for the whole of the year. I tried to make sure I did enough practice before coming to play here, and it seemed to work out well today.”

By his own admission, Nirat has struggled with a volatile temperament in the past, but regular visits to his local temple have helped him to adopt a calmer disposition.

He said: “I used to be very hot-tempered and got frustrated easily, especially at a young age. So my parents sent me to the monastery, and I became a monk for a while. My temper is better now, but I still try to go back to the monastery once in a while.”

There was little else by way of movement in the upper echelons of the leaderboard, with England’s Simon Khan, Nirat’s compatriot Chinnarat Phadungsil and Spain’s Pablo Martin all on four under par, having completed their rounds on Thursday.

World Number One and Race to Dubai leader Rory McIlroy birdied the 11th hole en route to carding a one under par 70, and was set to for a quick turnaround before starting his second round as organisers sought to make up for lost time.

“Hopefully we got the good side of the draw, and can get 18 holes in this afternoon and then have a bit of a rest between the second and third rounds,” said the Northern Irishman, who is suffering with a cold.

“I actually played pretty well from tee to green, just didn’t really hole any putts, which was a bit frustrating. But if I can hit it as well as I did this morning and then get it going on the greens, I’ll be pretty happy.”