Updated: 05/02/2014 21:21 | By Agence France-Presse

Late birdie keeps 'Coconut' on top

Thailand’s Panuphol Pittayarat birdied his final hole to stay one shot ahead of the chasing pack at the $1.5 million Championship in scorching heat in Singapore on Friday.


Late birdie keeps 'Coconut' on top

Scott Hend (L) of Australia walks along the fairway during round two of The Championship at Laguna National on May 2, 2014 in Singapore - by Roslan Rahman

Panuphol, nicknamed "Coconut", carded four-under-par 68 to move to 13-under 131 at the European and Asian Tour-sanctioned tournament, following his sizzling 63 in the first round.

The 21-year-old had looked set to complete a four-way tie at the top of the leaderboard until he birdied his last hole, the par-four ninth, to maintain his one-shot overnight lead.

Just behind are five-time Asian Tour winner Scott Hend, Korean-American David Lipsky and Chile's Felipe Aguilar, with Anders Hansen, Rahil Gangjee and Baek Seuk-Hyun two shots off the pace.

Panuphol, despite coming from tropical Thailand, was desperate for a rest after playing in 32 Celsius (90 Fahrenheit) heat and high humidity at par-72 Laguna National Golf and Country Club.

"I need to rest," said Panuphol, who is looking for his first tour win after turning pro aged 14. "I don’t want to think about swing thoughts at the moment, I just need to get my body to 100 percent."

He added: "It’s tough to focus out there with the heat and the sweat, and you go all wet in your hands... I just want to grab my chance and not let it go."

After a rain and lightning delay in round one, the sun beat down relentlessly on day two as Panuphol carded five birdies against one bogey to retain his slim advantage.

The conditions are vastly different to those expected by the players. The Championship was scheduled to be held in chilly South Korea but was moved three weeks ago over "staging issues".

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