Thaworn keeps pace with big boys
Chuah Choo Chiang
Thailand's Thaworn Wiratchant got into the mix with the big guns, cruising quietly on to the leaderboard after an impressive second-round four-under-par 68.
The Asian Tour number one produced a wonderful performance at Royal Liverpool to safely make the weekend rounds with his two-day total of five-under-par 139.
After becoming the second Thai to make the cut in the year's third major, Thaworn is determined to stick around the leaders, although he concedes the vagaries of links golf still leaves him mystified.
'I'm really glad as I never thought that I would play this good,' said Thaworn, who shot five birdies on the card. 'I'm very happy. We started early this morning and conditions were good for playing. It was easy to control my shots and to play this well after two rounds, I'm really proud of myself.'
While links courses remain a mystery to the 39-year-old, he pulled off a bagful of terrific shots that thrilled the Hoylake galleries. He opened his campaign with a 20-foot birdie on the third, two-putted the par-five fifth and rolled in an eight-foot putt on 10 to move to three under for the round.
A dropped shot on 12 after landing in a fairway trap was quickly forgotten when Thaworn finished strongly, shooting birdies on the par five 16th and 18th holes after chipping close on both occasions. He had the pleasure of outscoring playing partners Rich Beem of the United States, the former US PGA Championship winner, and Scotsman Scott Drummond by five shots from two rounds.
'Everything was good. My game went according to plan. After two rounds I still don't really understand links golf. I'm just playing it one shot at a time, trying to put the ball in places that I want to.
'We have been lucky so far as there has hardly been any wind out there,' said Thaworn, who is an eight-time winner in Asia and 12th on the UBS Order of Merit.
Thongchai Jaidee was the first Thai to play in all four rounds at the British Open at St Andrews last year, finishing tied 52nd.