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Tabuena stays in Top 10

‘I think the key for today was just driving the ball really well, surprisingly with this tough condition.’

DOHA, Qatar (Asian Tour News) — Miguel Tabuena stayed in the Top 10 despite a bad finish in the $2.5-million International Series Qatar at Doha Golf Club Friday.

The 28-year-old Filipino bogeyed three of the last five holes and dropped to one-over-par 73 and a share of eighth place on 1-over 145.

Two other Filipinos, Lloyd Jefferson Go, and Angelo Que failed to make the weekend.

Go wound up on 8-over following a 75 while Que stumbled with an 80 for 13-over.

Thailand’s Suradit Yongcharoenchai impressively succeeded when the majority failed again Friday in wildly windy weather to take the lead.

After Thursday’s four-under-par 68 which gave him the first-round lead, he followed that up this morning with a brave 71 to lead on five under, by two shots from Malaysian Ben Leong, who shot 70.

American Andy Ogletree (71) and Australia’s Travis Smyth (72) are a shot further back — in the Asian Tour’s third event of the season, and second of 10 International Series tournaments.

“I was very happy with the 68 yesterday and today I feel even more happy with one under par in this wind. Today was more windy,” said Suradit, who has tasted victory once before on the Asian Tour at the 2019 Mercuries Taiwan Masters.

“Today into the wind I hit three clubs more, and maybe had to aim 30 yards right (on crosswind shots), it was very windy.”

The 24-year-old made three birdies and two bogeys and is looking to bounce back from a poor 2022 season when he finished 81st on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, when a 10th place finish in the Mercuries event was the highlight of his year.

“My caddie and I feel in these conditions the par is about 75. I have been driving the ball well, and when I miss they haven’t been bad misses. I have very good distance control with my irons considering the strong wind, and have also been putting well,” he added.

Leong, who played in the afternoon and started on the back nine, tried hard to catch the Thai leader and reached four under with seven to play but dropped his only shots of the day on five and seven before recovering with a birdie on the ninth as darkness descended.

“Phenomenal, I’m just glad I could finish today,” said the Malaysian, whose sole victory on the Asian Tour came 15 years ago at the Selangor Masters.

“I think the key for today was just driving the ball really well, surprisingly with this tough condition. And coming back in from the front nine, I drove it well, misjudged the wind a little on my second shots. So yeah, all in all very happy.”

Smyth has also won once before on the Tour, in last year’s Yeangder TPC in Chinese Taipei following a string of good results, and was delighted to reach the clubhouse under par.

He said: “It’s like the best feeling ever, finishing Friday midday, just sitting back relaxing, watching the carnage unfold. Yeah, brutal conditions, I’m super stoked to be under par.”

He missed a four-foot putt on his last, the par-five ninth as he began on 10, for birdie, in stark contrast to his opening eagle on 10, also a par five, when he holed a pitch shot from 50 meters.

“I mean, it’s so strange, I’ve never seen anywhere like it where it’s windy all the way through the night, all the way through the morning. It’s like it’s the exact same basically the last two days,” he added.

“The forecast is meant to be the same over the next two days. But yeah, got off to an amazing start, the eagle was a great feeling.”

Ogletree, winner of last year’s International Series Egypt, also got close to Suradit in the afternoon but made bogey on 15 and a double on 16, where he lost his tee shot on the driveable par four.

He said: “I’m just trying to play every hole as best I can, and I felt like I gave up three shots on that one hole because no one saw my ball. So, I’m not going to get over that anytime soon. Pretty frustrated, I should be leading the tournament. And you know, I’m here to win a golf tournament. I’m not here to have a good finish. So, a successful week this week is a win, and that’s the only way I’m gonna look at it, and that’s all I’m focused on.”

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