Nirat Holds 6 Stroke Lead In TCL Classic

Friday, March 16th 2007, 8:02 am
By: News On 6

SANYA, China (AP) _ Chapchai Nirat of Thailand shot a 6-under 66 on Friday to take a six-stroke lead after the second round of the TCL Classic.

Nirat's 17-under 127 matched the best two-round total in relation to par on the Asian Tour. David Howell of England did it last year at this event, and Filipino Frankie Minoza did it in the 2001 Singapore Masters.

Nirat's lead was fueled mostly by his course-record 61 on Thursday at the Yalong Bay Golf Club.

Five players were in at 11-under 133: Jean-Baptiste Gonnet of France (66), Rafael Echenique of Argentina (69) and Australians David Bransdon, Simon Nash, Adam Blyth, who each shot 66.

``The only thing on my mind was to keep hitting fairways and keep making putts,'' said the 23-year-old Nirat, who is looking for his first tour victory. ``I just wanted to ensure I didnt make any mistakes.''

``I feel comfortable this week,'' he added. ``But I still feel a bit of pressure because I know that on a course like this its possible for someone to catch me.''

Carl Suneson of Spain, who is seven strokes off the lead after a 66, said the Thai could still stumble.

``He's obviously playing tremendous golf,'' Suneson said. ``But I played here last year when David Howell was 17-under after two rounds and he didn't win. This game has a habit of bringing you back to your knees pretty quickly.''