LAHORE - Jakraphan Premsirigorn of Thailand took a step closer of ending a four-year title drought on the Asian Development Tour (ADT) after shooting a second round four-under-par 68 at the weather-interrupted Defence Raya Golf Championship on Friday. The Championship carries prize money of US$120,000.

As many as 31 overseas golf champions from the continents of USA, Europe, Australia, Africa and Asia are searching for honors and lucrative prize money on the soil of Pakistan. These players represent US, Venenzuela, Sweden, England, Austria, Australia, South Africa, Malaysia, Japan, China, Taiwan, Indonesia and Thailand.

All the overseas players are technically mighty and have been exposed to international golf for more than a decade of competitive golfing. Up in golfing arms against them are 61 of Pakistan's top golf professionals and amateurs who may represent the best talent of Pakistan but sadly having insufficient exposure to international golf and therefore at a slight disadvantage.

During the second round on Friday, the champions, who sparkled, were Jakraphan of Thailand, Nattawat Suvajanakorn also of Thailand, Malcolm Kokocinski of Sweden, Luke Joy of England, Wolmer Murillo of Sweden and two Pakistanis Talat Ijaz and national hero Shabbir Iqbal.

A dampener to the championship was again smog and bad light which prevented 48 competitors from completing their round yesterday. They will be the first ones to tee off today (Saturday) and complete their remaining round and thereafter proceed to play the third round.

Performance wise, 26-year-old Jakraphan grabbed the clubhouse lead on nine-under-par 135 while countryman Nattawat Suvajanakorn, who carded a dream like low round of 64, is placed one shot behind at a score of 136, a position he shares with Malcolm Kokocinski (70) of Sweden and another fine performer Luke Joy (66) of England. Wolmer of Venenzuella is at 137.

Two Pakistanis, who made their presence felt during the second round, were Talat Ijaz and Shabbir Iqbal of Pakistan.Talat Ijaz is a powerful hitter of the ball and so is Shabbir Iqbal. Their rounds on the second day reflected command and control and visible is the urge and determination to excel.

Among the players, who have yet to complete the halfway stage, is opening round leader Poosit Supupramai of Thailand, who is seven-under through eight holes in the US$120,000 ADT event. As for leader Jakraphan, his first victory on the ADT came in 2013 but he has struggled to repeat his winning form. He hopes his long awaited win will come this week after enjoying four top-10s including a runner-up result on the ADT this year.

“I made two silly mistakes but overall I’m happy with my score. It has been such a long time since I won on the ADT. Now I’m in a good position so I hope I can have a good week in Pakistan,” said Jakraphan, who traded six birdies against two bogeys. “There have been some low rounds this week but I’ve been consistent. Hopefully I can continue my form and get a low round too!” the Thai added.

The 21-year-old Nattawat set the course record with his round of 64 which was highlighted by an eagle-three on the fifth hole. This is an important week for Thai, who is currently fourth on the ADT Order of Merit. The leading five players on the final Merit ranking earn an Asian Tour card for 2018.

“I felt so nervous in the first round because of my position on the Order of Merit. But I came back this morning to finish round one and I felt more comfortable. I played really well after that and now I’m in good position. I don’t want to think about winning yet because we still have two more rounds to go,” Nattawat smiled.

Kokocinski is playing in his first ADT event after injuring his wrist last year which kept him out of the game for four months. “I hurt my wrist in an accident but I think it has made me a better player. You really miss the game more when you are out of action for so long. I’m happy to be back in Asia and playing for the first time in Pakistan. The course is really good here and I’m looking forward to the last two rounds,” said the Swede.