Kuala Lumpur: National number one Nicholas Fung led a trio of domestic players into the weekend rounds of the Maybank Malaysian Open, keeping some local interest alive at the US$2.75 million tournament.
Following his opening 72 yesterday, the 23-year-old Sabahan battled to a one-under 71 at the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club for a one-under-par 143 overall, leaving him in a share of 37th, 12 strokes behind runaway leader Lee Westwood of England.
Fung is one of just three local golfers who survived the cut – which was set at one-over 145 – with amateur prospect Gavin Kyle Green and Khor Kheng Hwai squeezing in with a stroke to spare.
“I’m happy as this is the first time I’m making the cut. It means a lot as not many Malaysians have made it. At least we’ll have three in the weekend,” said Fung, who was relieved to make the cut for the first time in seven appearances – three as an amateur.
“Before I teed off, I looked at the scores and it looked like it was +1 or even (to make the cut). I was nervous starting out. I pulled my opening drive and then kept pulling all my shots until the 10th hole before I stabled myself. I told myself to not worry since I’ve already missed it six times!
“I had no expectations and I just wanted to have fun. I managed to get one birdie on 16 which was good as I missed a few short putts.”
“Putting is a bit of a problem as I struggled with my line-reading. Maybe I’ll call my coach to ask him for some advice before I tee off tomorrow,” he added.
Green, the best domestic finisher at the event last year, produced a fine 70 but not before enduring a rough ride on the inward nine, when he dropped five shots.
“I was really nervous on the back nine. I played good on the first nine,” said the college student, who brilliantly turned in 31 following three birdies and one eagle.
“The game was going good. (Then) I kept trying too hard and overthinking on the back nine. Thankfully I did enough to make the cut. I was thinking too much about my swing than hitting the shot. There’s a little bit of pressure because I want to make the cut and improve on what I finished last year (tied 22nd).
“Since I have made it now, I’m going all out. I’ll stick to my game plan and be a little bit more aggressive. I’m definitely going to the driving range to try and fix my swing.”
Khor, on the other hand, made up for a poor start with two birdies either side of the turn to cross the line with matching 72s over two rounds.
“Third time lucky I guess. I didn’t start well, dropping three shots in a space of two holes and from there, I just dug deep, didn’t think too much about the scores and focused on my game.
“On the back nine, I pushed a bit harder and nailed some crucials putts, which secured two more days for me at this big stage,” said the 29-year-old, who admitted that nerves got the better off him as he three-putted his closing hole on the ninth.
The Malaysians as they fared (Round 2)
143 – Nicholas Fung 70 -71
144 – Gavin Green 74-70, Khor Kheng Hwai 72-72
146 – Sukree Othman 76-70
147 – Ben Leong 72-75
149 – Danny Chia 75-74, Airil Rizman Zahari 78-71
150 – Shaifubari Muda 79-71, Kenneth De Silva 75-75
151 – Shaaban Hussin 74-77, Arie Irawan 74-77, Iain Steel 73-78
153 – Mohd Rizal Amin 78-75, S. Sivachandhran 80-73
154 – Ervin Chang (a) 83-71
155 – R.Nachimuthu 74-81, Wilson Choo 77-78
156 – Kemarol Baharin 79-77
159 – Mohd Wafiyuddin Abdul Manaf (a) 84-75
160 – Mohd Iylia Jamil 79-81
163 – S.Murthy 80-83
165 – Solomon Emilio Rosidin (a) 85-80