Lee Westwood will take a four-shot lead into the weekend in his quest for a second Maybank Malaysian Open title. The in-form English star added a second round 66 to his opening 65 at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club for a total of 13-under-par 131, four shots ahead of Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts and Filipino Antonio Lascuna.
The Englishman, winner of the event in 1997, tightened his grip in the US$2.75 million event with eight birdies. Fresh from a seventh place finish at the Masters, he took full advantage of his sharp-shooting approach shots on the front nine where he sank five birdies from inside four feet. Westwood switched to cruise mode with another birdie on 10 but dropped two shots on the difficult par three 11th hole when his tee shot found the drink. Two more birdies on 14 and 16 put him back in prime position for his first win in two years.
A winner of 12 titles in Asia, Westwood has enjoyed a welcome return to form after starting work with new swing coach Mike Walker recently.
“I saw an immediate improvement on the range but at first it was difficult to take it onto the golf course. But the last few weeks I’ve managed to do so. We are just trying to get it in a different position on the backswing to give me a better angle of attack on the way down,” he explained.
Lascuna surprised even himself when he brilliantly turned in 31 before going on to add three more birdies on his homeward nine.
“Honestly, I didn’t expect to shoot this score because this course is a very long golf course for me. My goal was to shoot one or two-under on each day but after nine holes I was five-under! It was amazing,” said the 43-year-old, who is winless on the Asian Tour.
The powerful Colsaerts, a two-time European Tour champion, turned in 32 but struggled to keep pace when he dropped one bogey on his way home.
“I made a fantastic start and was quickly under par, but I got a bit sloppy at one stage. I could’ve kept it going and gone really low, but I ran out of a bit of steam on the back nine,” said the 31-year-old.
The halfway cut was set at 145 with a total of 73 players making it through.
Leading Round 2 Scores:
131 – Lee WESTWOOD (ENG) 65-66.
135 – Antonio LASCUNA (PHI) 70-65, Nicolas COLSAERTS (BEL) 66-69.
136 – Danny WILLETT (ENG) 70-66.
137 – Julien QUESNE (FRA) 68-69, Andy SULLIVAN (ENG) 70-67, Eduardo DE LA RIVA (ESP) 69-68.
138 – Ricardo SANTOS (POR) 67-71, Masahiro KAWAMURA (JPN) 68-70.
139 – Garth MULROY (RSA) 71-68, Scott JAMIESON (SCO) 68-71, Jbe KRUGER (RSA) 68-71.
140 – Steve LEWTON (ENG) 71-69, Louis OOSTHUIZEN (RSA) 72-68, Scott HEND (AUS) 70-70, Michael HOEY (IRL) 67-73, Bernd WIESBERGER (AUT) 69-71.
141 – Arnond VONGVANIJ (THA) 70-71, Tom LEWIS (ENG) 70-71, Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 70-71, Prayad MARKSAENG (THA) 69-72, Rikard KARLBERG (SWE) 72-69, S.S.P CHOWRASIA (IND) 71-70, Wade ORMSBY (AUS) 70-71.