Chieh extends lead with blistering second round

Alor Gajah, Melaka; May 20: Overnight leader Chieh Po Lee (pic left) of Taiwan tightened his grip on the 109th Malaysian Amateur Open with a second round five-under-par 67 to open up a six-stroke lead on top of the leaderboard at the A’Famosa Golf Resort here.

Aussie Daniel Bringolf returned with a second consecutive three-under 69 to occupy sole second on six-under 138 while Filipino Jobim Carlos and Faldo Series Asia winner Abhijit Chandra of India, who carded 71 and 70 respectively, were tied for third on 139.

The trendy teen from Taipei endured a mixed front nine, exchanging two birdies and two bogeys to make the turn on even par. He came alive on the back nine, sinking birdies at holes 11 and 14, before finishing on a high with three successive birdies from the 16th.

“Overall, my second shots were not as good as yesterday, which is crucial for such a tight resort layout. But I got lucky a few times, especially at the 18th hole when the ball landed at the edge of a bunker and too close to a palm tree, stopping me from making a full swing. I managed a clean punch-shot, earning a birdie,” said the 16-year old Chieh.

Malaysia’s hope to end a 13-year drought in the nation’s premier amateur tournament looked set to continue after another disappointing outing by the local charges. Kenneth de Silva was the best placed Malaysian with an even-par 72 for a two-day total of 145, putting him 13 strokes behind the leader.

“My putting is slightly better today, but I still missed several birdie opportunities from around five to six feet. I had two near-misses for eagles by mere inches, today at the par-four ninth hole and yesterday at the first hole,” said the 20-year old, who finally getting into his rhythm after a recent change in equipment.

Meanwhile, in the ladies division which started today, Malaysia’s Aretha Pan Herng (above) recovered from a poor start to fire a superb four-under par 68 to take a slim one-stroke lead over Thai teen Pinrath “Sai” Loomboonruang and Filipina Jayvie Agojo, both who carded three-under-par 69 each.

“After the bogey on the first, I tried to take it easy on my game, and the birdies kept coming,” said the 17-year old Sabahan who finished runner-up at her home state amateur meet last month. “My game plan is to keep my flow going, and to shoot as many birdies as possible, as I have a target to achieve. My dad said that by winning this tournament, I can apply for my driver’s license – and hopefully earn a ride as well.”

Pinrath’s scorecard was blemished by a single bogey when she three-putted at the first hole, but she redeemed herself with four birdies overall. “I’m glad with my score today as I found the greens are tight and difficult to lay-up my tee-shots,” said the 15-year old,who hails from Nonthaburi province in central Thailand.

Agojo credited her short game after a round highlighted by five birdies against two bogeys.“It was really good today. I’ve not had much feel in my putting lately, but today was just great. The course was not too hard to play and not too long either, so it was pretty much fine.”

The top 54 players and ties made it into the weekend round.

Leading Round Two scores

Men’s Division
132 Chieh Po Lee (TPE) 65-67
138 Daniel Bringolf (AUS) 69-69
139 Jobim Carlos (PHI) 68-71, Abhijit Chadha (IND) 69-70
141 Natipong Srithong (THA) 71 70

Ladies’ Division
68 Aretha Pan Herng (MAS)
69 Pinrath Loomboonruang (THA), Jayvie Agojo (PHI)
70 Hsin En Tsai (TPE), Chi Wang (TPE)
71 Kim Sol Lip (KOR)