Kajang, Selangor: Local favourite Md Rashid Ismail narrowed the gap at the top of the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM)-Maybank Tour Players’ Championship on the back of a strong second round showing on Thursday.
The two-time PGM Tour winner, who is still searching for a victory this year, traded six birdies against two bogeys for a round of four-under 68 to trail overnight leader and defending champion R. Nachimuthu by one shot at Impian Golf & Country Club.
Joining Rashid on five-under 139 was Akhmal Tarmizee Nazari, who recovered strongly with an eagle on the par-five 17th to come home with a two-under 70 at the RM300,000 season-finale.
Maybank ambassador Shaaban Hussin (69) was a further shot back in a share for fourth alongside PGM Tour Academy product Hafiy Afiq Suhaili (71) while current Order of Merit leader Nicholas Fung of Sabah stayed three shots off the lead with a round of one-under 71 in joint sixth.
Rashid, the long-standing resident professional at Impian, took advantage of his familiarity of the layout by hitting 15 greens-in-regulation, including a hot stretch around the turn where he gained three straight birdies.
“I hit the ball really well today and as I got into a rhythm, my confidence began to rise and I really peppered the pins with my approach shots,” said the 39-year-old.
Having struggled with a recurring back problem for much of the season, Rashid was delighted to be swinging freely again after a long stint of physiotherapy. “The last two or three months has really been difficult for me as I was not able to rotate my hips completely because of pain. I’m fortunate because I took some time off to seek treatment for my back and it seems to be paying off,” added Rashid, who holds the club record of 10-under 62, set during the PGM-CCM Impian Masters earlier in the year.
“I’m know that my chances of topping the PGM standings are slim but I believe that playing well and concluding 2012 with a win would be a bonus in itself,” explained Rashid, who lies fifth on the Money list with RM101,425.
Nachi admitted that he has to re-double his effort if he seal the Order of Merit title for the second consecutive year. “Not the best round as I missed a couple of makeable putts out there and dropped some crucial strokes on the back nine. That definitely allowed Rashid and Akhmal to close in. I must re-focus for the next two rounds because its possible for anyone to go low here,” said the halfway leader.
Leading second round scores
138 – R. Nachimuthu 67-71
139 – Md Rashid Ismail 71-68, Akmal Tarmizee Nazari 69-70
140 – Shaaban Hussin 71-69, Hafiy Afiq Suhaili 69-71
141 – M. Sasidaran 72-69, Khor Kheng Hwai 71-70, S. Murthy 70-71, Nicholas Fung 70-71
142 – Sukree Othman 74-68, Nicholas Pua 71-71, S. Sivachandhran 70-72