Aunchisa Utama was hot on her heels as she fired a remarkable second-round 63 to take a clubhouse lead in the Bt3.45 million Thailand Mixed Cup presented by TrustGolf, which will be reduced to 54 holes due to poor weather conditions in Rayong.
Inclement weather slowed down Friday’s actions at the par-73 St. Andrews 2000, and it was only after midday that the first group could finally tee off. However, only half of the field finished their second-round play, while the rest will kick off their campaign on Saturday morning. As play has been behind schedule, organizers decided to reduce the competition to three rounds, with the top 60 and ties, after 36 holes, proceeding to Sunday’s final.
Whatever the condition was, it failed to deprive Aunchisa of her momentum as she sprinkled her round with six birdies, one eagle on the 13th hole and one bogey on No 17. She was leading the clubhouse on 8 under-par-138, two shots ahead of young-gun Witchayanon Chothirunrungrueng.
“I had one of the best rounds in years. I made one easy bogey but also got a bit lucky to have that eagle,” said the 33-year-old from Lopburi.
Reflecting on her eagle shot, she said, “Although I didn’t hit the ball well off the tee, it still managed to land on the fairway. The pin was 170 yards away, and I decided to use a 7-iron. The ball rolled smoothly towards the pin and ended up close to it, giving me an easy putt from around 5 feet.”
Aunchisa will be taking a break on Saturday and watching the latter half of the field compete for spots in the final. She’s also determined to claim her first trophy of the season, having previously won the Thai LPGA Tour in Nakhon Nayok last year.
“I was a little excited, but I’ll do my best to stay focused and avoid getting too carried away. Since this is a mountain course, it’s crucial to play with caution and stay focused before taking a shot. Remember, everyone has an equal opportunity to win.”
Staring at the back nine, Witchayanon notched three straight birdies from the 11th hole, then bogeyed twice on No 14 and 16 before generating his last birdie on No 7. He carded 71 and a total 140.
“I had a good start, managing to hit three birdies in the first four holes. However, I lost my momentum and struggled with my drives. Despite this setback, I was fortunate enough to recover and finish the round under par,” said the 26-year-old from Udorn Thani.
Like Aunchisa, Witchayanon he will have a rest tomorrow and will return to play on Sunday in pursuit of his first title since winning on the All Thailand Golf Tour in Phuket last year.
“ I’ll focus on playing my game and taking advantage of any opportunities that arise. The key is to execute the first shots well,” he said.
Kamalas Namuangruk, who was the overnight leader with a score of 6-under, along with Rattanon Wannasrichan, Amarin Kraivixien, and Tawan, each with a score of 5-under, will play their second round on Saturday.
TrustGolf, an indoor training center with cutting-edge technology, has been spearheading the organization of the Thailand Mixed for three consecutive years, providing a platform for male and female players to hone their skills. The tour is supported by the Sports Authority of Thailand, National Sports Development Fun, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Tourism Authority of Rayong, Bangkok Bank, B. Grimm Company, Bond Holdings, AIS Airplay, Bridgestone, Trust Pharmacy, Trust Live Streaming, Adidas Golf, Balance Golf Nutrition, Leborn, LMV, Udommpanich, St. Andrews 2000 and Barcelona Valley.
TrustGolf, an indoor training center with advanced technology, has been instrumental in supporting international golf tournaments, including the ‘TrustGolf Women Scottish Open’, a co-sanctioned event between the Ladies European Tour and the LPGA Tour from 2021-2025. The event garnered significant interest from leading golfers worldwide and helped promote a positive image for Thailand. Moreover, TrustGolf provided Thai female players with the opportunity to compete in this prestigious European event.
In 2023, TrustGolf is set to host five Thailand Mixed series, offering a total prize money of Bt17 million. Additionally, the TrustGolf Tour will organize the TrustGolf Asian Mixed events, tri-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, Ladies European Tour, and TrustGolf Tour, with a total prize money of US$1.5 million. The TrustGolf Link Series will also serve as the Access Series for the Ladies European Tour and include the TrustGolf Women Scottish Open, with a prize money of US$2 million.”