Chopra takes halfway lead in Johor

Johor Bahru, November 18: 18 years after his first professional win in Johor, Swede Daniel Chopra continued his love affair with the state by taking the second round clubhouse lead in the weather-hit Iskandar Johor Open.

Chopra fired a six-under-par 65 after returning this morning to complete four holes of his opening round. The two-time PGA Tour winner set the clubhouse target of 13-under-par 129 in the US$2 million event at Horizon Hills Golf & Country Club, five shots ahead of compatriots Christian Nilsson and Michael Jonzon, and Siddikur of Bangladesh.

Threats of lightning suspended play for two hours and 30 minutes before the second round was stopped due to darkness at 6.40pm. A total of 70 players will return at 7.20am on Saturday to complete their rounds.

Chopra, who grew up in India, rekindled his love for the country where he won his first professional title at the 1993 Johor Open.

“My first ever professional win was here in Johor so I have fond memories here. I love Asia. I grew up in India and spend all my youth travelling around Asia. This is my second home,” smiled Chopra, who earned his 2012 PGA Tour card through the Nationwide Tour this year.

Chopra took advantage of the ideal scoring conditions early in the morning, turning in 33 before shooting four birdies in six holes highlighted by three straight birdies from the 13th hole.

“I didn’t drive the ball as well as I did yesterday but my putting was perfect. My iron play needs a little bit more work on the driving range this afternoon. If I can get that sorted out and get some rhythm with that than I should be good for the weekend,” said Chopra.

Siddikur, winner of the 2010 Brunei Open, birdied his opening two holes before making a huge 15 feet par save on the 15th hole. He added three more birdies against one bogey to trail the clubhouse leader by five shots.

“I’m happy with my round because my hitting has really improved. I missed the cut last week and that was disappointing but I’m glad I’ve regained my form. I’m in good position, I think it sets me up nicely for the weekend,” said Siddikur, who returned to complete six holes in his opening round on Friday.

Nilsson, who has five top-10s on the European Tour this season, battled through fatigue to keep himself in contention of ending a two-year title drought.

“It was pretty tiring for the last few holes – it’s difficult enough just to play 18 in these hot conditions, let alone 25. But I had plenty of snacks in my bag, and luckily they kept my energy levels up, even though I was feeling pretty tired towards the end of my round,” said Nilsson, who shot 67.

Overnight leader Joost Luiten of the Netherlands was nine-under through six holes while title holder Padraig Harrington of Ireland was two strokes back after nine holes.

Leading Rd 2 Scores (completed rounds only):

129 – Daniel CHOPRA (SWE) 64-65.

134 – SIDDIKUR  (BAN) 67-67, Christian  NILSSON (SWE) 67-67, Michael JONZON (SWE) 69-65.

135 – Soren HANSEN (DEN) 68-67, Rhys DAVIES (WAL) 70-65, Soren KJELDSEN (DEN) 71-64, Darren BECK (AUS) 70-65, Brett RUMFORD (AUS) 71-64, Manny VILLEGAS (COL) 72-63.

136 – Rikard KARLBERG (SWE) 70-66, Chapchai NIRAT (THA) 65-71, Peter KARMIS (RSA) 70-66, Jamie MCLEARY (SCO) 66-70, Marcel SIEM (GER) 69-67.

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