The battle to win the Asian Tour OOM title is starting to warm up
Jakarta: Thailand’s Sarit Suwannarut carded a five-under-par 67 and Mathiam Keyser from South Africa a 68 to take the clubhouse lead at the halfway mark of the US$1.5 million BNI Indonesian Masters presented by TNE, today.
Sarit and Keyser top the leaderboard on 11 under at Royale Jakarta Golf Club in the Asian Tour season-finale – which is also part of the International Series.
Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond, the winner of this event in 2019, the last time the event was played, fired a 65, and Indian Anirban Lahiri, the champion in 2014, returned a 70 to sit in third place, three behind the leaders.
Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell (67) and Sadom Kaewkanjana from Thailand (69) are one stroke back. 49 players were unable to complete their rounds due to delays caused by the play finishing early yesterday because of lightning.
Jazz and Sadom both need to win the event to have a chance to claim the Asian Tour Order of Merit (OOM) title, which is being led by American Sihwan Kim, who was one of those players unable to finish today and is anxiously battling to survive the cut. He is one under with three to play with the cut prediction at the moment being that exact same number.
Keyser is in the middle of his own OOM battle as he is 63rd on the Merit list and needs a good week to end the year in the top 60 to retain his playing rights for 2023.
Fortunately, there are several affiliate members who are above him on the Merit list which will see his ranking improve, but he still needs a good week. He is also aiming to try and finish in the top 30 on the list, which will earn him a place in next year’s Saudi International.
He said: “Yeah, 100%. I thought I might be okay in 63rd because there are nine or 10 affiliate members in there, but eventually, the goal will be to get into Saudi Arabia right, top 30. So, the first two days was definitely just to make the cut and secure a top 60, and now we’re going to the weekend and trying to get into the top 30.
“Like it’s so nice to be in Indonesia. Everyone out here, we love Royale Jakarta; it’s one of the best courses of the year. So just go out there and have fun and see what happens on Sunday.”
Sarit has only finished outside the top 25 once in his last six events, highlighted by finishing equal third in the Mercuries Taiwan Masters in September, and is safely ranked in 31st place.
“I do have to say it’s about my coach, my team and everything,” said the Thai golfer about his good form.
“I mean, before Taiwan, I wasn’t in the top 60, but in the first event there, I played quite well, and in the second one, the Mercuries event, I finished third. And I think that’s what made me feel more comfortable, and it felt more fun to play the rest of it. So, I think that those two events made a big difference.
“I think the main thing is, I didn’t hit it quite well before I came here, and I had a really good talk with my coach. We figured out something, and I feel like it clicked and then started hitting it good. I mean, my irons are on point except the last hole. But yeah, I think that’s the main thing; that’s why I’m playing well this week.”
Jazz, who won the International Series Morocco last month after a three-year winless streak, is starting to look like the player of 2019 when he triumphed four times and lifted the Merit title. However, he admitted today that a hectic playing schedule this year had taken its toll.
“I’m fresh now because I had three weeks off before coming in here, but when I played Morocco, or the weeks before that, I was so out of it,” he said.
“Seriously, like in Morocco, it was such a blur, I still don’t know what happened. And I walked home with a trophy, so that was pretty lucky. So now, after three weeks, I feel so much better. I feel like a new man.”
That’s a good place to be for a player with a chance of winning three titles this week: the tournament, the Asian Tour OOM and the International Series ranking.
He added: “You know, I know what’s on the line. It’s like last time when I was here, so I’m not going to lie to myself that it’s nothing that I’m playing for. I just know what I need todo. I just need to play well and seize the day.
England’s Lee Westwood, a three-time winner of the Indonesian Masters, shot a 66 and is four under and South African Ernie Els came in with a 70 to be two under.