Golf: Old rivals Casey, Poom inseparable atop SMBC Singapore Open leaderboard at halfway mark

Enlgand's Paul Casey (left) and Thailand's Poom Saksansin at the SMBC Singapore Open at the Serapong Course in Sentosa on Jan 18, 2019.
Enlgand's Paul Casey (left) and Thailand's Poom Saksansin at the SMBC Singapore Open at the Serapong Course in Sentosa on Jan 18, 2019.ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - It took the full 18 holes to separate Paul Casey and Poom Saksansin the last time they played alongside each other and the result was no different after 36 holes at the SMBC Singapore Open on Friday (Jan 18), with the flightmates grabbing a share of the halfway lead on seven-under 135.

What they did not share was the same mood, with Casey frustrated by a dropped shot on the ninth hole that prevented him from seizing the outright lead.

"It was good, I mean, I managed to get the last one out of the way - that was disappointing - but the rest was really nice," said the 41-year-old, who shot a four-under 67 in the second round.

"I started off with another opening nine on the back nine for the second round and that (momentum's) been the key to the seven-under. It certainly hasn't been the front nine."

The world No. 24 has not dropped a shot on the back nine of the Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong Course this week, sinking seven birdies.

But it has been a different story on the front nine, where he has had four bogeys with two coming on the ninth.

Much had also been made this week about Casey and Poom's last encounter at last year's EurAsia Cup, when the Thai had triumphed 1-up in the matchplay singles.

 
 
 
 

"It's nice to be on top of the leaderboard with my best mate Poom, whom I can't seem to beat. He's great," said Casey with a wry smile. "I think my second round was better than his but there's still time."

Poom, on the other hand, was pleased with his second-round 70.

"Although I only shot one-under, I think it was a very nice round. The wind was picking up and my iron play wasn't that good," said the 25-year-old.

Asked what he thought of Casey considering him his 'nemesis', the soft-spoken Thai demurred: "Casey played really nicely today. He hit it so far on the eighth hole. I really liked that shot. I have to follow my own style because he hits it long and I hit it short."

The duo were among the 78 players forced to finish their first rounds on Friday after weather delays put an end to play on Thursday.

A further downpour suspended play again on Friday morning for about two hours, which meant the other half of the field could not complete their second rounds.

Play resumes at 7.30am on Saturday, with the third round slated to start after noon.

The Japanese trio of Taihei Sato, Shotaro Wada and Yoshinori Fujimoto sit one stroke off the lead on six-under, although the last has completed only seven holes.

Meanwhile, it was not the best of days for the home-grown talent, with only Johnson Poh and James Leow (both one-under 141) out of the 12 Singaporeans in the field currently meeting the projected cut of one-under.

Both Casey and Poom said they were looking forward to getting some welcome rest before the resumption of their rivalry.

"It's been a long day, feet are starting to hurt. Fingers crossed that we get done (with the third round) by tomorrow," said Casey. "Hopefully the guys can play quickly tomorrow so we can crack on and have 18 holes on Sunday."

Poom revealed that he had some dinner plans in mind as well.

"I am going to eat some good food, really get a good one. No more 7-Eleven for me. Maybe I'll eat chicken rice," he said.