Kuala Lumpur: S. Murthy bounced back with a vengeance to give himself a fighting chance to become the first local to win the Maybank Malaysian Open on Saturday.
The seasoned campaigner was among 76 players who returned early on Saturday to complete the weather-delayed second round at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club and reversed his overnight decline with a sterling front nine 31, for a round of two-under 70.
It meant that the 42-year-old Murthy topped the local challenge with a seven-under 137 total but more importantly, lies only four shots adrift of leader Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand in the US$2.75 million Asian and European Tours co-sanctioned tournament.
The burly Thai posted a flawless four-under 68 to enjoy a two-shot cushion over the quartet of South African star Charl Schwartzel, Gregory Bourdy of France, Aussie Wade Ormsby and Chinese invite Wu Ashun with a 11-under 133 haul.
Completing the Malaysian cast in the weekend are national amateur Gavin Kyle Green (73-68), who was three-under for the tournament and Maybank ambassador Danny Chia, who once again dug deep before easing into the third round with matching rounds of 71s.
Leading completed second round scores
133 – Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 65-68;
135 – Wu Ashun (CHN) 67-68, Charl Schwartzel (RSA) 67-68, Wade Ormsby (AUS) 70-65, Gregory Bourdy (FRA) 66-69;
136 – Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) 70-66, Victor Dubuisson (FRA) 67-69;
137 – S. Murthy 67-70, Padraig Harrington (IRL) 69-68, David Howell (ENG) 69-68, Edoardo Molinari (ITA) 66-71, Peter Lawrie (SCO) 68-69 , Alexander Noren (SWE) 69-68,
138 – Lee Slattery (ENG) 68-70 , Scott Jamieson (SCO) 66-72 , Mark Foster (ENG) 69-69 , Lee Sung (KOR) 68-70 , Liang Wen-Chong (CHN) 70-68