Rashid bulldozes ahead with nine-birdie round

Penang, May 24: An determined Mohd Rashid Ismail steered his way up the field with an avalanche of birdies during the second round of the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Penang Classic today at the Penang Golf Resort.

The 38-year-old Rashid drained nine birdies enroute to an eight-under-par 64 for a two-day total of 136 to take a one-shot advantage over the trio of  Anis Helmi Hassan, who returned with an inspired 65, as well as Chan Soo Keong (68) and Shaaban Hussin (69).

Trailing closely behind by a single shot in tied third place at six-under-par are S. Sivachandhran and M.Sasidaran, who posted rounds of 67 and 69 respectively. Overnight leaders Kemarol Baharin and Danny Chia stumbled down the leaderboard after over-par rounds of 74 and 75.

With the slight drizzle providing a cool respite, Rashid, who teed off in the inward nine, came out with putter blazing, birdieing three of his first four holes. He continued his relentless pace with a hattrick of birdies from the 15th to make the turn at 30. Three birdies against a sole bogey on the fourth saw the Johor-born Rashid take the halfway lead.

“I was pretty relaxed out there as I had prepared myself mentally to end my title drought on the PGM Tour as soon a possible,” said the 2005 MPGA champion, who has yet to taste victory on the burgeoning PGM Tour. I was satisfied with my driving and was very happy with my putting. Hopefully, I can grind out another few low scores and take the win (on Thursday),” he added.

A simple gameplan of hitting fairways and greens benefitted Anis, who is very much focussed on winning his maiden professional title this year. Starting on the tenth,the 26-year-old eagled the par-four 13th, followed by a bogey and birdie to make the turn on 34.

He hit three consecutive birdies from the first and added another two towards the end to record his lowest score of the year. “Generally, I’ve got a good vibe around me. Things are going well in my life and that has surely spilled over to my game as well,” said Anis, who is planning to end his bachelor days later this year. “I’m not going to get carried away with this round, there’s still two rounds of golf to play and if I can keep hitting it well like I did today, there’s always a chance.”

Northerner Chan, who is well-versed with Penang Golf Resort layout after winning many amateur tournaments there, is just taking it easy and is pleased with his performance so far. “I’ve surprised myself this week actually but I know this course fairly well and have some tricks up my sleeve. Let’s see if I can last the mile,” laughed the 44-year-old, who earned his pro card in the Professional Golf Association of Malaysia (PGAM) qualifier earlier this year.

The 78-field was whittled down to 54 for the third round tomorrow, with the cut coming at nine-over-par.

Leading second round scores
136 Md Rashid Ismail 72-64
137 Anis Helmi Hassan 72-65, Chan Soo Keong 69-68, Shaaban Hussin 68-69
138 S. Sivachandhran 71-67, M. Sasidaran 69-69
139 Sukree Othman 70-69, Kemarol Baharin 65-74
140 Danny Chia 65-75
141 R. Nachimuthu 72-69, Dinata Abdillah 71-70,Mohd Iylia Jamil 69-72