BANGKOK, August 10 - Prom Meesawat booked a date with destiny after firing a second round nine-under 63 on Friday to take a one-shot lead into the weekend at the OneAsia's U.S. $1 million Thailand Open.
Prom's two-round 15-under par total of 129 around the 7,077 yard (6,471 metre) Suwan Golf & Country Club course was a shot better than countryman Wisut Artjanawat (64) and two ahead of England's Chris Wood (64), Aussie David McKenzie (66) and Chan Shih-chang (66) of Chinese Taipei.
The 28-year-old is seeking to emulate his father Suthep, who in 1991 became the first of only two Thais to win their national Open championship -- despite the Kingdom producing some of the region's best players since the tournament started in 1965.
The event has an aura that can be both inspiring and intimidating for Thai professionals because the trophy was donated by the King, who is held in reverence by the population. They say for a Thai to win, he has to be on top of his game physically, mentally and spiritually.
Known locally as the "Big Dolphin" because of his cherubic physique, Prom seems to have all three elements under control following the recent successful defence of his Singha Pattaya Open title on the ASEAN PGA tour.
Rest and the occasional mid-round back rub from his caddy are taking care of his physical needs, while he has also been chatting via Facebook to his mental coach, Dr. Pichit Namuangpo, who is doing duty with the Thailand Olympic team in London.
"I am very happy. Everything has been great for the first two rounds," he said. "I can't complain .... it's been the best two rounds I have ever had at the Thailand Open."
Wisut, who won twice on the ASEAN PGA Tour last year en-route to claiming that Merit title, was also delighted with a perfect round on a course he says suits his game.
"All 18 greens in regulation? That's the best round I have had this year for sure," he said. "If I could make one or two putts it would be even better."
Wisut said he was looking forward to playing with Prom on Saturday, noting they had been friends since childhood.
"But on the golf course things are different," he added.
Overnight leaders Yasunori Yoshida and Kim Hyung-tae followed their opening 64s with second rounds of 72 and 73 respectively, while defending champion Andre Stolz -- who went on to win the OneAsia order of Merit title last year -- just made the cut after finishing two rounds at four under par.
China's Liang Wenchong, Thailand Open and Order of Merit winner in 2010, starts the weekend nine under, while 2009 money list winner Scott Strange is a shot further back.
Englishman Wood was the best of a five-strong European Tour raiding party and is perfectly placed two shots off the lead.
"I am fit now after my back problem last year so that is a major part of why I am playing well," he said. "I am really impressed with the course and all the Thai people are very friendly -- it is very noticeable."
All attention at the weekend, however, will focus on the home challenge as Thailand's leading golfers bid for their biggest prize -- with Prom leading the way.
"Last week I had a very good practice round and I'm thinking 'that's too good, a week before the tournament'," said Prom. "And so I was talking with my sports psychology coach and talking about the result that was coming, asking for advice.
"He said 'be yourself ... when you play, play like it's a practice round. Don't think about your score or the result, just go out and play your game'."
Prom received similar advice from his father after calling him following Thursday's opening round that saw him finish two shots behind the leaders.
"Yesterday I told him I shot six under and he said 'just go out there and play and have fun and try your best'," Prom said.
And would his father watch him at the weekend?
"He said if I make the cut, he will probably come," Prom laughed.