Eagle gives Kiradech shock lead
Alejandro Canizares set the clubhouse target in the weather-hit Maybank Malaysian Open but a young Thai holds the lead.
Little-known Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat produced a timely eagle to edge ahead of second-round clubhouse leader Alejandro Canizares at the weather-affected Maybank Malaysian Open on Friday.
In near darkness at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club, former world junior champion Kiradech chipped in from 30 yards to surge to the top of the leaderboard at nine under par after playing his opening 14 holes in five under.
Only minutes earlier Spaniard Canizares had posted the clubhouse lead at eight under after racing to complete a three-under-par 69 to edge ahead of early pacesetters Soren Hansen and Angelo Que.
Ever-consistent Dane Hansen and Filipino Que had earlier battled the energy-sapping morning humidity to card second rounds of five under to set the pace at seven under.
With 58 players yet to complete their second rounds following a 140-minute delay due to lightning, KJ Choi, fellow South Korean Kim Dae-hyun and joint first round leaders Rhys Davies and Ignacio Garrido also sit at seven under with holes still to play.
“I’m very happy with that eagle,” said Kiradech. “It wasn’t quite dark. I wanted to continue and chipped in. Finishing with an eagle was great.”
World number 231 Kiradech, 20, held a two-shot lead after the third round of the Asian Tour’s season-opening Asian Tour International last month but was eventually forced to settle for fourth after a disappointing final round to miss out on a maiden title following three top 10s last year.
“I wasn’t playing well before. I changed my clubs before the Asian Tour International and didn’t feel comfortable with it. I changed another set of clubs before coming to this tournament,” he added.
“This time is much different because this tournament is bigger with a lot of top players, but I need to keep going.”
World number 442 Canizares, the son of four time Ryder Cup player Jose Marie, dropped just one shot during his second round and briefly snatched the lead with a birdie at his penultimate hole before holing tricky eight-foot downhill putt in the fading light at the last.
Canizares won the 2006 Russian Open in just his third event as an affiliate member, but earned his card for this season after finishing fifth Q-School.
“I played steady today and yesterday and it feels good to be in contention again,” said the 26-year-old. “It has been a couple of years since I have really been in contention so hopefully I can still remember how to play when I am up there over the weekend and stay relaxed.
“I feel more mature and more experienced now so hopefully that will help me.”
Hansen, meanwhile, is well placed to challenge for a first title in over two years after extending his streak of consecutive cuts made to 22 – a run which stretches back to last year’s Masters and includes 11 top-10 finishes.
“I have a great record going right now but we all know what golf is like and that can change quickly. I have seen the good and bad side of the game and I know that you don’t win every week,” said the 35-year-old world number 50.
“I just have to be patient and believe that my wins will come, which I do believe.
“It will happen this year, I am sure of it.”
Like Hansen and Que, Australia’s Brett Rumford dropped just one shot in his 67 to sit safely in the clubhouse six under par alongside Johan Edfors, who carded a second consecutive 69.
In-form Asian number one Thongchai Jaidee was also three of the pace after playing 16 holes of his second round in level par.
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