Kota Kinabalu: Local favourite Nicholas Fung battled to a two-under-par 70 on his home course to tie with Shaaban Hussin at the halfway stage of the PGM-UMW Sabah Classic on Thursday.
The reigning Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Merit champion charged into a share of the lead with overnight leader Shaaban, who slipped back with a 73, on four-under-par 140 at the Sabah Golf and Country Club.
Canadian Lindsay Renolds (69), England’s Peter Richardson (71) and M. Sasidaran (72) of Malaysia shared third place on matching 141s at the RM180,000 (approximately US$60,000) Asian Development Tour (ADT) event.
Current ADT Order of Merit leader, Iain Steel of Malaysia, posted a 71 for tied sixth with Chan Shih-chang of Chinese Taipei, Wolmer Murillo of Venezuela, Thailand’s Jakraphan Premsirigorn, Wasin Sripattranusorn and Pavit Tangkamolprasert, who returned with a 68 which is the lowest score of the day.
Fung drew confidence from the presence of his family and friends who came out to support him. However, he is mindful about his putting which may be a hindrance for him to play well this week.
“It’s great to see my friends and family out here to support me these two days. They gave me a lot of confidence and I do not want to disappoint them,” said the 23-year-old, who honed his skills on the same layout.
“I haven’t been putting well lately. I guess I still have a lot to work on if I want to play better and win,” added the bespectacled Fung, who mixed his card with four birdies against two bogeys.
Shaaban, who marked his card with three birdies against two bogeys and one double bogey, hopes to find his groove again as he hunts for a first ADT victory.
“My front nine was good but unfortunately, I dropped shots on the back nine. Overall, I enjoyed my game. The course is in good shape and the weather was good,” said the 33-year-old.
“You’ve got to stay focused when you play on this course. I think I need to work on my mental game a bit and try to stay focused. I will keep up with my momentum and hopefully I can play better tomorrow,” added Shaaban.
Renolds, who secured six top-10 finishes on the ADT this season, hopes his consistency will earn him a much-awaited victory on the ADT. The Canadian is currently ranked third on the ADT Order of Merit and is in the running to earn an Asian Tour card for 2014 if he remains in the top-three of the Merit list at the end of the season.
“I played really solid today. I had a very good game and I hit many good shots. I’m always confident with my game. I think I will win eventually. The key is to stay consistent. I guess I’ll be safe as long as I stay within the top five on the merit list,” said the Canadian.
The halfway cut was set at five-over-par 149 with 57 players advancing into the final two rounds.
Leading second round scores
140 – Nicholas Fung 70-70, Shaaban Hussin 67-73
141 – Lindsay Renolds (CAN) 72-69, Peter Richardson (ENG) 70-71, M. Sasidaran 69-72
142 – Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA) 74-68, Chan Shih-chang (TPE) 72-70, Wolmer Murillo (VEN) 71-71, Iain Steel 71-71, Jakraphan Premsirigorn (THA) 72-70, Wasin Sripattranusorn (THA) 73-69