Chonburi - On a day in which the oppressive heat sapped the strength of even the strongest players, Jamie Donaldson held on to a two-shot lead in the second round of the Thailand Golf Championship at Amata Spring Golf and Country Club on Friday.
The Welsh Ryder Cup star fired a four-under 68 to keep two clear of a charging Martin Kaymer who moved into second spot with an excellent seven-under 65, the best round of the day.
Spain's Sergio Garcia, who shot 69, led the chasing pack a further two strokes behind, along with the impressive English youngster Matthew Fitzpatrick who shot an excellent 67 and Thailand's Chinnarat Phadungsil with a 69.
In joint sixth place were Korea's Byeong-Hun An with a 67, and Thailand's Panuphol Pittayarat who shot 66.
Donaldson, who fired a magnificent 63 in the opening round, admitted the tropical heat was a factor.
"It was a great temperature to start with, but it got really hot on the back nine," he said. "It was tough out there and a case of trying to stay hydrated and not drop sweat on the ball."
The Welsh star said he was pleased with his performance, considering the conditions.
"I dropped a couple of shots out there today, but overall, I have been playing nicely. I've just got to keep doing what I've been doing."
Kaymer also had problems with the heat, although it did not seem to affect his play.
"It was like a sauna out there," he said. "They say you get nicer weather in the morning, but that was not really the case today. But the good thing is that the ball goes further."
The German, who was runner-up in this event last year and would dearly love to win the trophy, said he was very pleased with his performance.
"I played really well. I think seven-under today is a very good score."
Kaymer said his strategy for the weekend would be hitting the fairways. "Driving will be the key," he said.
Garcia said the key to his round was "having plenty of water to drink. I got through a lot of bottles."
The Spanish star said he really felt the heat on the last six holes.
Garcia said he was relatively happy with his score. "I gave myself plenty of chances but did not put them all away. But I felt I played pretty good through the round."
One of the pre-tournament favourites, big-hitting Bubba Watson, was some way back after shooting a 70. He admitted he was not at his best and was happy to make the cut.
"The best moment was at the 17th island green. I almost hit it in the water, but then sunk a much-needed birdie," he said.
Defending champion Lee Westwood felt he was still in with a chance after shooting a 68, although he is well behind the leaders.
"I've played pretty well," he said. "But I've been wasting too many putts. I still have a chance for a weekend charge up the leaderboard."
Thai fans were pleased to see their local hero Thongchai Jaidee have a much better second round, ensuring he would make the cut and climb the leaderboard after shooting a five-under 67.
Leading scores after the second round of the Thailand Golf Championship on Thursday at the par-72 Amata Spring course:
131 - Jamie Donaldson (WAL) 63-68
133 - Martin Kaymer (GER) 68-65
135 - Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG) 68-67, Sergio Garcia (ESP) 66-69, Chinnarat Phadungsil (THA) 66-69
136 - Byeonghun An (KOR) 69-67, Panuphol Pittayarat (THA) 70-66
137 - Clement Sordet (FRA) 71-66
138 - Sam Brazel (AUS) 70-68, Sunghoon Kang (KOR) 70-68
139 - Joost Luiten (NED) 69-70, Lee Westwood (ENG) 71-68, Brett Munson (USA) 67-72, Phachara Khongwatmai (THA) 68-71, Matthew Giles (AUS) 69-70, Natipong Srithong (THA) 67-72, Jacques Blaauw (RSA) 70-69, Chanat Sakulpolphaisan (THA) 66-73
140 - Jin Cheng (A) (CHN) 73-67, Nicolas Colsaerts (BEL) 70-70, Darren Clarke (NIR) 69-71, David Lipsky (USA) 73-67, Antonio Lascuna (PHI) 73-67, Thongchai Jaidee 73-67, Zander Lombard (RSA) 71-69, Jason Knutzon (USA) 72-68, Berry Henson (USA) 70-70
141 - Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 69-72, Bubba Watson (USA) 71-70