(Macao, Oct. 14, 2016) – India’s Anirban Lahiri took his customary spot atop the US$1.1 million The Venetian Macao Open on Friday as close friend Chikkarangappa S., alongside Kalem Richardson, Scott Vincent and Sutijet Kooratanapisan forced their way into a leaderboard logjam.
Reigning Asian Tour number one Lahiri, champion here in 2014 and runner-up in 2013 and last year, overcame an early triple bogey to shoot a three under par 68 at the Macau Golf and Country Club to share the lead on eight under par 134 at the halfway point of the competition.
Unheralded Sutijet overcame emotions following the death of King Bhumibol of Thailand, as he carded a 66 to put himself in position for a maiden Asian Tour victory. Richardson (67), Vincent (64) and Chikkarangappa (65) also battled into contention.
Co-overnight leader Ian Poulter scrambled to a 73 to fall three shots off the pace in his first tournament back from injury, while title holder Scott Hend fired 67 to lie a further stroke back. World number 14 Branden Grace signed for a 71 and is six behind the leaders while Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke missed the halfway cut following a 73.
With an impressive track record at The Venetian Macao Open, 29-year-old Lahiri, who is now 55 under par in his last 14 rounds here, put himself in prime position to land a second victory in three years and eighth Asian Tour title.
“Obviously not the start I was looking for (with the triple bogey) but I was confident if I could claw myself back, I could put a score together,” said Lahiri, whose card included five birdies and one eagle. “End of the day, I’m still a bit disappointed I didn’t birdie one of the last three holes. However, I’m happy to keep myself in it.”
Lahiri, who played mainly in the United States this season, was happy close friend Chikkarangappa also fought his way into contention but he won’t afford any favours to the younger man.
“We’re always going to be friends, but on the course we want to beat each other. He knows it, I know it. For 10 years now, whether it’s a dollar bet or a lunch bet, a bet is a bet. We’re both competitive. It’s a matter of time [before he wins] as he has the quality and he’s shown it,” said Lahiri.
Sutijet, 29, hopes to honour the late King Bhumibol with a title run. Players wore black ribbons today while flags at the venue were at half-mast as a mark of respect following the passing of the Thai king on Thursday night. Play was also stopped for one minute at 12 noon as players, officials and fans observed a minute’s silence.
“I’m happy with my score but I feel so bad the whole day as we just lost our king. He’s the best of the kings, I just felt so bad when I played. I just tried to focus on my shots and tried to put on a score. I was thinking of him all day. Most of the Thai players couldn’t sleep last night,” said Sutijet.
Newcomer Chikkarangappa, who has registered two top-10s in as many weeks, credited his hot putting for his run, eagling the last hole from eight feet. “The key was putting although I did hit some good wedge shots in,” said the 23-year-old, who needed only 24 strokes on the putting surface.
“I miss playing with him [Lahiri] these days and I hope we can play together tomorrow. I’m very excited. He’s won events out here, he’s got a lot of experience.”
Qualifying School graduate Vincent, runner-up at the Shinhan Donghae Open in Korea last month, produced the day’s best round with seven birdies against no bogeys. “I hit some good shots early and knew we had to get out of the gates early. I managed to take advantage of some fairly easy holes and got the round going and kept it from there,” said the slightly-built Zimbabwean.
A first top-10 of the season in Indonesia last week has given Richardson a confidence boost as he chases a maiden Asian Tour title. “I’m just pretty confident with my game at the moment … pretty switched on with my focus. If I make a bogey, I’m pretty quick to get it back and hit a good shot. Starting this year, I would have let it slipped a little and probably make a few more bogeys but I’m pretty happy with the way I held it together,” he said.
The Venetian Macao Open is jointly organised by Sports Bureau of Macao SAR Government (MSB) and the Golf Association of Macau. It is sanctioned by both the Asian Tour and the Golf Association of Macau, and promoted by IMG.
The Venetian Macao became title sponsor of the tournament in 2012 and since then has seen it develop into one of the most prestigious professional golf tournaments in the region, offering the highest purse at US$1.1 million for a full-field Asian Tour event this year.
For more details on the Venetian Macao Open, please visit: www.thevenetianmacaoopen.com.
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About Sports Bureau of Macao SAR Government (MSB)
Sports Bureau of Macao SAR Government, under the capacity of the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture of the Macao SAR Government, is a public organization of administration autonomy. The organization is responsible for the implementation of sport strategy and policy formulated by the Macao SAR Government. Its objective is to stimulate, encourage, and promote all kind of sports in Macao, also to create an essential condition for sport development.
For the development of competitive sports and ‘Sport for all’, Sports Bureau of Macao SAR Government organizes various high level international sport competitions as well as recreational classes and thematic ‘Sport for all’ activities each year, in an endeavor to promote the international status of Macao, reinforce communication and co-operation with other countries and cites, enhance citizens’ quality of life and arouse their interest in sport, so as to accelerate and facilitate the enhancement of the level of sport in Macao.
For more information, please visit www.sport.gov.mo
About Golf Association of Macau
Founded in 2000, the Golf Association of Macau is a non-profit organization, with the mission to promote, support and ensure the quality, traditions and development of the game of golf in Macao.
With the mission to encourage and promote golf in Macao, it provides coaching, training and selection of the Macao teams for participation in international events at all levels, and promotes and runs appropriate international and domestic golfing events in Macao, which helps to represent Macao in the golfing world and be a member of appropriate regional and world governing bodies.
About The Venetian® Macao
Opened in 2007, The Venetian® Macao is Macao's first integrated resort featuring stunning replicas of the famous canals and architectural icons of Venice, Italy. The Venetian Macao features 3,000 suites, 1.2 million square feet (111,000 square metres) of convention and meeting facilities as well as a 15,000-seat Cotai Arena designed for world-class sports events and electrifying entertainment. The Venetian Macao is also home to the unique, 1,800-seat luxury Venetian Theatre, hosting the best in international and Chinese entertainment; more than 30 renowned restaurants; TAIVEXMALO Day Hospital; the incredibly fun QUBE indoor playground and more than 350 retailers at Shoppes at Venetian. Outdoor recreation areas include swimming pools and cabanas and a mini-golf course.
For more information, please visit www.venetianmacao.com.
About Sands Resorts Cotai Strip Macao – Sands China’s Integrated Resort City
Sands China Ltd. is the leading developer, owner and operator of integrated resorts in Macao. The befittingly named Sands Resorts Cotai Strip Macao, situated on reclaimed land between the islands of Coloane and Taipa, is the one destination that provides a stunning array of experiences at the heart of Cotai. Sands Resorts Cotai Strip Macao has transformed a day-trip market into an integrated resort city and international hub for business and leisure travellers.
Pulsating with life, both night and day, Sands Resorts Cotai Strip Macao features an expansive offering of affordable luxury available nowhere else in Macao. . With the opening of The Parisian Macao, it will have nearly 13,000hotel rooms and suites, international superstar live entertainment, duty-free shopping with more than 850 retailers offering an unparalleled array of name brands, meeting and exhibition space for Asia’s leading conferences and exhibitions, transportation offerings and well over 150 dining options, including Michelin-starred restaurants, bars and lounges. Sands Resorts Cotai Strip Macao is a must-go destination providing every guest with an unforgettable experience and unparalleled excitement.
Comprised of The Venetian® Macao; The Plaza™ Macao, featuring the Four Seasons Hotel Macao; and Sands® Cotai Central, featuring the world’s largest Conrad, Sheraton, and St. Regis hotels as well as the Holiday Inn. Sands Resorts Cotai Strip Macao is where Asia’s ultimate destination is all within reach. And coming in 2016, the crowning achievement of Sheldon G. Adelson’s vision of the Cotai Strip - The Parisian Macao. For more information, please visit ParisianMacao.com.
For more information about Sands Resorts Cotai Strip Macao, please visit http://en.sandsresortsmacao.com.
About the Asian Tour
As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include ECCO (Official Footwear Sponsor), FENIX XCell (Official Apparel Supplier), Hilton Worldwide (Official Hotel Partner), Titleist (Official Web Partner), Bloomberg TV (Official International Media Sponsor), Bloomberg Businessweek Chinese (Official Business Publication Sponsor) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). Sentosa, Singapore is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has an office in Kuala Lumpur.
IMG is a global leader in sports, events, media and fashion, operating in more than 30 countries. The company represents and manages some of the world’s greatest sports figures and fashion icons; stages hundreds of live events and branded entertainment experiences annually; and is one of the largest independent producers and distributors of sports media. IMG also specializes in sports training; league development; and marketing, media and licensing for brands, sports organizations and collegiate institutions. In 2014, IMG was acquired by WME, a leading global entertainment agency.