Tour rookie Sadom Kaewkanjana of Thailand stole the show at the Bangabandhu Cup Golf Open yesterday, firing a nine-under-par (62) to take a solo halfway lead at the Kurmitola Golf Club at the conclusion of the second day, which proved to also be one of the best for local golfers.
The 20-year-old Kaewkanjana, who only turned professional at the end of 2018, had stroked a six-under-par (65) on the opening day and, after firing home an eagle and eight birdies against a bogey, now holds a three-shot lead -- the largest halfway lead in the tournament's history -- over India's Rashid Khan, who hit a bogey-free seven-under-par (64) yesterday.
Meanwhile, a record number of 12 Bangladeshis survived the halfway cut set at one-over-par 143, eclipsing the 10 locals who had made the cut in 2017 and 2018. Two-time Asian Tour winner Siddikur Rahman led the local charge, firing a three-under-par (68) to take a share of fourth position with an overall score of eight-under-par (134).
Akbar Hossain stayed close behind, in seventh place with a seven-under after a three-under in the second round. Others also rose to the occasion, with Mohammad Nazim and Sajib Ali reaching 11th position with six-unders (136).
Unfortunately, the unheralded Muaj Mohammad dropped off quite a bit from his overnight position of joint-second with a torrid showing. He followed up his six-under (65) on the opening day with a three-over-par (74) and is now tied for 29th position alongside another local, Md. Sayum.
The other locals on the list include Jamal Mollah in 22nd place with a four-under, Badal Hossain in 40th with a one-under and four others with scores of one-over-par.
Muaj was not the only one to decline though, as overnight leader Maverick Antcliff of Australia slipped six shots off the pace to third following a battling 70 at the US$350,000 event.
Kaewkanjana admitted that he had not expected to do so well, but with the largest halfway lead in the tournament's history, he was feeling confident.
"My goal today was just to shoot under-par. I didn't expect to play so well. I am really happy. I got off to a solid start. I had a great run from the 12th hole. I was just hitting fairways and greens and then making putts. It felt great," Kaewkanjana, making his first start on the Asian Tour this season, said.
"I feel excited now," he added on his second time at the course. He had previously played here four years ago in the 30th Bangladesh Amateur Golf Championship, coming in second. "It feels good to be in the lead after two rounds in my first Asian Tour start this season too. I hope to continue my good form over the next two days and see how it goes."
Siddikur lamented his play on the last hole, which cost him what he described as a 'silly bogey' but he was looking forward to staying in contention before turning his attention to the locals.
"It's good to see our local boys doing well. I can see that they are getting more experienced now. It's happy to see how the development of golf in Bangladesh has grown."