Johor Bahru: Venezuelan Wolmer Murillo edged into a one-shot lead over local hope Nicholas Fung at the halfway stage of the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Maybank Johor Masters on Thursday.
The 32-year-old Murillo, playing in his rookie year in Asia, carded a four-under-par 68 for a two-day total of 10-under-par 134 in the RM200,000 (approximately US$65,000) Asian Development Tour (ADT) event at the Johor Country Club.
Fung, the co-overnight leader with Murillo, battled to a 69 which included five birdies against two bogeys to stay in the hunt for his first ADT title after several close shaves.
England’s Grant Jackson carded a 68 to lie a further shot back in third place while a group of seven players, including Asian Tour winner Airil Rizman of Malaysia and Thailand’s Jakraphan Premsirigorn, share fourth on 139, five shots behind.
Murillo enjoyed a fast start with three opening birdies after starting the day from the 10th tee but the challenging Johor Country Club bared its fangs as he dropped three shots while shooting four more birdies on his inward nine.
“You have to be careful on this golf course. It will be important for me to keep to the same course management for the next two rounds,” said Murillo.
“I have a chance to win as long as I can keep the rhythm going with my putting and stay patient. It’s my first season in Asia and I love it here. The ADT is a big opportunity to try to play your way onto the Asian Tour.”
Fung, the reigning Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour number one, remained on course for his first victory of 2013.
“Overall it was good although I didn’t hit my irons as close as yesterday,” said the Sabahan, who finished runner-up in the previous ADT stop in Malaysia, namely the PGM Northport Glenmarie Masters.
He was disappointed to three-putt the seventh green for one of two bogeys in his round but he produced a good comeback birdie at the eighth hole where he hit it close to the pin from a near impossible position near the jungle which lines the course.
“It was a good comeback from bogey, got it close from the jungle,” said Fung. “I’ll just go out and play in the next two rounds. I’ve had so many runners-up finishes in the past and I think I’ve learned to just let it happen,” added the 22-year-old, who registered three domestic victories last season.
Jackson used an eagle on the second hole to keep in touch with the leaders while title holder Luke Bleumink of Australia carded a 71 for a 140 total, six shots back.
Leading second round scores (Malaysians unless stated)
134 – Wolmer Murillo (VEN) 66-68
135 – Nicholas Fung 66-69
136 – Grant Jackson (ENG) 68-68
139 – Hendre Izak Celliers (RSA) 69-70, Daniel Bringolf (AUS) 70-69, Lee Cho-chuan (TPE) 71-68, R. Nachimuthu 70-69, Airil Rizman Zahari 71-68, Ratchapol Jantavara (THA) 73 -66
140 – Luke Bleumink (AUS) 69-71, Mitsuhiko Hashizume (JPN) 69-71, Iain Steel 69-71, Shaun Malone (ENG) 71-69, Hanafiah Jamil 72-68, Akhmal Tarmizee Nazari 69-71, Hsieh Tung-shu (TPE) 68-72, Darren Tan (AUS) 69-71