Kuala Lumpur, April 13: There were no Friday the 13th jitters for Jbe Kruger and Hennie Otto of South Africa as they charged into the joint second round clubhouse lead at the weather-hit Maybank Malaysian Open.
Kruger, the current Asian Tour’s Order of Merit leader, took full advantage of ideal conditions in the morning as he fired eight birdies against one bogey to card a 65 and tie countryman Hennie Otto, who fired a brilliant 64, on nine-under-par 135 at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
American Rookie David Lipsky, who won the HANDA FALDO Cambodian Classic last month and finished second at the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic on Sunday, extended his rich vein of form with a 67 pushing him to equal fourth place alongside world number seven Martin Kaymer of Germany (67) in the US$2.5 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
Masters runner-up Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, lying on eight-under for the championship through 12 holes, is amongst the 75 players who will return on Saturday morning (7.45am) to complete their rounds after an afternoon thunderstorm disrupted play. The third round is expected to begin at 11.30am.
Jyoti Randhawa, India’s first Asian number one in 2002, stayed in the title hunt with a battling 72 leaving him three shots off the pace.
The pint-sized Kruger, who took 27 putts in his round, is hoping to strike his irons hot during the weekend as he chases a second Asian Tour victory following his maiden success at the Avantha Masters in India in February.
“I’ve been working on a lot of things and it seems to be coming together which is always a good sign. I just worked a bit on my swing which is not really a 100% yet. My ball striking used to be my strength and now it is my weakness,” said Kruger.
He was delighted to jointly lead the elite field which includes his more illustrious countrymen Oosthuizen and 2011 Masters Tournament champion Charl Schwartzel, who lies on five under through 12 holes which he was three over par for the round.
“The mind-set will be the same. I’m going to hit it one shot at a time. I won’t really call it giving as Charl and Louis a run for their money because I just finished awesomely. It is just fun to be in contention, it doesn’t matter if it is with Charl or Louis,” smiled Kruger.
Otto, a two-time European Tour champion, did not enjoy the benefit of a practice round but was rewarded with a flawless card highlighted by eight birdies. “I played the course blind yesterday because I was first reserve for the pro-am and was expecting to get into that and use it as my practice round. But it didn’t happen. I walked the course on Wednesday so had an idea but it is obviously a lot different when you come to play it,” said the 35-year-old.
It has been a wild ride for Lipsky, who first topped the Qualifying School in January before breaking out for his maiden professional win in Cambodia. He continued his Asian sojourn with a stunning eagle from 75 yards on the third hole and four other birdies.
“You don’t always get the opportunity to play with these players. I played with Branden Grace and Simon Dyson, both are premier players on the European Tour. It is great to also be competing against Oosthuizen and Schwartzel. It is everything I dreamt of as a little kid … to be competing against the best in the world. I’m loving this opportunity,” said Lipsky.
Kaymer, the highest ranked player in the field, charged into contention with six birdies on the card. “I played really well and gave myself a lot of birdie chances. I had a good eagle chance on three and felt like a hit a lot of good putts but maybe just over-read the greens. I feel good about the game and if I can make a few more putts I feel I can really get into the tournament,” said the German, winner of the 2010 PGA Championship.
Randhawa failed to reproduce Thursday’s fireworks as he settled for a battling 72, which included two birdies against as many bogeys. The Indian, an eight-time winner but not since 2009, conceded he got ahead of himself in his bid to end his title drought.
“I was a little anxious, trying to make putts, trying to hit shots. Wasn’t committed and wasn’t focused to what I needed to do and play. I was more focused on the result and scoring. I had a few opportunities and had a few misses. Probably I was over anxious trying to make a score,” he said.
“The swing was a bit patchy. Best thing is that I know what I need to do. But I need to do it under pressure. I need to stay behind the ball. I have a tendency to move ahead of the ball. I need to be more centred and balanced. It’s a very old habit and I guess old habits die hard,” added Randhawa.
Leading Completed Round 2 Scores:
135 – Hennie OTTO (RSA) 71-64, Jbe KRUGER (RSA) 70-65.
137 – David LIPSKY (USA) 70-67, Martin KAYMER (GER) 70-67.
138 – Jyoti RANDHAWA (IND) 66-72, Danny WILLETT (ENG) 69-69.
139 – Simon DYSON (ENG) 69-70, Ricardo GONZALEZ (ARG) 68-71.
140 – Tom LEWIS (ENG) 70-70, LIANG Wen-chong (CHN) 72-68, Nicolas COLSAERTS (BEL) 72-68, Victor DUBUISSON (FRA) 72-68.
141 – Stephen LEWTON (ENG) 70-71, Julien QUESNE (FRA) 69-72, Scott HEND (AUS) 70-71, Branden GRACE (RSA) 69-72, Daisuke KATAOKA (JPN) 70-71, Ignacio GARRIDO (ESP) 71-70.
142 – Matteo MANASSERO (ITA) 70-72, Rikard KARLBERG (SWE) 73-69, Peter KARMIS (RSA) 72-70, Gaurav GHEI (IND) 68-74.