Taipei: Defending champion Travis Smyth took the second-round lead in the Yeangder TPC yesterday, putting himself two rounds away from becoming the first player to successfully retain the trophy.
After Thursday's seven-under-par 65, he joyfully said: "This golf course loves me, and I love it!", and he backed that up yesterday with a 67 at Linkou International Golf and Country Club.
He led the Asian Tour event at 12 under and a shot ahead of 2012 winner Gaganjeet Bhullar (67) of India and Australian Jack Thompson (66).
A further shot back are Thailand's Poom Saksansin (66), Pavit Tangkamolprasert (67), Phachara Khongwatmai (68) and Nitithorn Thippong (68), Lee Chieh-po (67) of Taiwan, Justin Quiban of the Philippines (68) and Sweden's Bjorn Hellgren (70).
"The conditions were pretty tough today," said Australian Smyth, whose victory last season remain his only win on the Asian Tour.
"The wind was mainly across on just about every hole, so it was hard to get pin high. You had to be very patient. It wasn't as clean as it was yesterday. But to shoot five under, it was a pretty good score. I would have been happy with anything under par to be honest."
Phachara's presence on the leaderboard was no surprise as two weeks ago he said he had rediscovered his golf swing and was playing some of the best golf of his career, after narrowly losing a sudden-death play-off in South Korea.
"I like my game now and got to make a lot of birdies and try to shoot low," said Phachara.