American Dodge Kemmer backed up his opening round eight-under-par 64 with a fine 66 to take the lead in the International Series Thailand today at Black Mountain Golf Club, in Hua Hin.
The 35 year old, impressively out in front on 14 under, holds a two-shot lead from two of the giants of golf in Thailand, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Jazz Janewattananond, who carded 67s, and their countryman Settee Prakongvech, in with a 66.
Australian Zach Murray returned a 66 and is an another stroke back, while Filipino Miguel Tabuena, the joint-overnight leader with Kemmer, fired a 70 and is in a group of players tied sixth on 10 under.
Kemmer is an emerging story. At last year’s season-ending Indonesian Masters in December he agonisingly missed keeping his Asian Tour card by one place on the Order of Merit (OOM), but immediately bounced back with two top-four finishes on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) in the ensuing two weeks, which helped him to finish in the top 10 the ADT OOM, which also provides passage on to the Asian Tour.
He said: “[After the Indonesian Masters] I had to turn around the next week and go and play ADT and I did really well those two weeks. I came back nicely, and I was proud of myself, to earn my card from the ADT season.”
The American caught the birdie train again today, making eight and dropping just two shots. He was 15 under with two to play but his final bogey of the day came on his penultimate hole.
“I have been hitting it nicely, struggled on the greens last week, but if I can get a few more of those to fall I will be right in there. It would be great [to win this week], it was tough last year,” said Kemmer, whose best finish on the Asian Tour is third at the Bangladesh Open in 2017.
“The greens were superfast in the practice rounds, they have slowed down a little bit but they are still really good. You have to think your way into the greens, and around the greens. There are no easy two putts, especially above the hole, so it takes a lot of strategy and I enjoy going through that.”
Kiradech, the Asian Tour Order of Merit champion 10 years ago and a three-time winner on Tour, got off to a surprisingly slow start, touring his first nine in event par but ripped through the second half in five under.
“I am very happy with my first two rounds, especially the way I started today quite slow,” said the Thai star.
“My putter was a little cold, couldn’t sink any birdies on the front nine. One single birdie, one three putt. I woke up on the back, birdied five of first six holes, they helped me get back into it.
“I don’t think I am far off from my A game, but to be honest I know I shot good scores over first two rounds, but it’s not my A game out there, I left a couple of strokes out there. I think I know what I have in my pocket, I am playing quite smart, in middle of the green sometimes, which is not normally my game. But I am concentrating on everything and focusing.”
Jazz, the Tour’s number one in 2019, is enjoying performing well on what is his home course and where he says he rarely performs well in tournaments.
“Yeah, pretty happy. I mean, before the tournament I didn't have much of an expectation, because it’s my home course and I’ve never really performed well, but just changed a lot of my mentality this year. Just take it easy, do whatever, if it comes it comes,” said Jazz, who won last year’s International Series Morocco.
“I feel like every year so far when I play my home course, I take it so seriously. I’m not even like stressed out about the tournament this time, but more like practicing, grinding it out and stuff.
“Just because when I'm at home I feel like I have to practice, and if I don't practice, I feel like I'm missing out. So, this year, I just take it very easy, didn't even do much practice and just come out here and chill. And the score kind of perform a lot better than the past year, so maybe going forward I'll do this.”
More information about the International Series Thailand, can be found by visiting: Asian Tour | Professional Golf Tour in Asia