Nusajaya, Johor, Malaysia, December 14: Spanish star Sergio Garcia charged up the leaderboard to hold the second round lead at nine-under through 12 holes at the weather-interrupted US$2 million Iskandar Johor Open.
Inclement weather caused almost three hours of play to be lost due to two suspensions and with darkness falling on the Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club, play was eventually suspended, leaving 117 players to return at 7.30am on Saturday morning to resume their round.
Opening round leader David Lipsky of the United States, who has yet to start his second round shared the lead with Garcia after signing for a 63 in the morning.
Three-time Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand is six-under through 13 holes and is among the five players who are three shots back of Garcia and Lipsky at the Asian Tour season-ending event.
Singapore’s Lam Chih Bing returned with a four-under-par 68 and is among the only three players who managed to complete their round at the Iskandar Johor Open.
Garcia, who played a starring role in the Ryder Cup for Europe in September, could only play three holes on the opening day. The Spaniard then returned with a vengeance by snaring 10 birdies against one bogey over 33 holes.
“It was good. It has been a long day but it has been quite positive. I just hope I can keep going in the right direction and see what happens. Hopefully we will get lucky and can get all four rounds in,” said the week’s highest ranked player.
The weather disruptions did little to dampen the Spaniard’s charge as he was already bracing himself for such delays in his maiden appearance in Malaysia.
“I did well before and after the breaks so overall it is what it is. You got to realize that the weather is like this and you got to deal with it,” said Garcia.
Lipsky, who returned to complete two holes, did not get to start his round but will head into the weekend, perched atop the leaderboard with Garcia
“It wasn’t too hard as I came back with an easy two-foot birdie putt and pretty simple par-five to finish off my round. Hopefully the weather stays clear and we can get more golf in,” said Lipsky, who marked his bogey-free card with seven birdies and one eagle.
Meanwhile Thongchai will be hoping to shake off the effects of fatigue when he resumes his title charge on Saturday.
“I’m happy with the way I played but I felt tired because of the suspensions. It was quite difficult to play on the course because the fairways are a bit wet. The greens are okay. I played very solid. I think I played about 30 holes. I woke up at 5.15am and it will be the same tomorrow,” said Thongchai.
Lam, who is battling to save his Tour card for next season after lying in 76th place on the Order of Merit, was visibly relieved when he managed to return to the clubhouse under fading light.
“I’m more than happy to be able to finish the round as the group was trying to rush through the last few holes. I’m going to have an extra six hours of sleep which is good. The course is a little wet and the greens are still running nicely,” said Lam.
“My scores over the last two days have definitely eased some pressure for me as I’ve made the cut and I can take it easy tonight,” added the Singaporean.
With the weather conditions continuing to create delays, tournament draw card Ernie Els of South Africa, preferred to look on the lighter side of things.
“I pray to God that we should have more of this kind of weather as I’m from South Africa and we’ve a dry climate. I like this kind of weather especially when I’m sleeping but not when I’m playing golf!” laughed Els, who is four-under through 12 holes.
Meanwhile Malaysia’s amateur Gavin Kyle Green, who was paired with Els and Garcia is five -under through 12 holes.
The Iskandar Johor Open is presented by Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Sdn Bhd, which is a government-linked company specifically incorporated to take on the role of master developer of prime waterfront properties in Johor Bahru.