Rawang [SELANGOR]: Danny Chia put together a vintage performance to seize the halfway lead at the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Panasonic Open Malaysia – Tournament of Champions on Thursday.
The national number one tore the Templer Park Country Club layout apart with a flawless eight-under 64 to move a stroke clear of the field on nine-under 135.
Thailand’s Wisut Artjanawat returned with a five-under 67 to lie second with Singapore’s Mardan Mamat notching a 68 to lie a further shot back in the winners-only RM250,000 event.
Kwanchai Tannin, also of Thailand, signed for a 69 to take a share of fourth alongside titleholder Kemarol Baharin (70) on five-under 139.
Kenneth De Silva (69) and national amateur Gavin Green (70), who won on this course last season, were another two strokes behind in jointh sixth.
An eagle at the 12th hole and another two birdies before the end, followed four birdies over the first nine and were the telling points of a round that underscored Chia’s good form.
Having re-claimed his position as the top Malaysian on the world rankings in fine fashion last year, Chia said he might have come back with an even lower number today had he “not missed a couple of short putts.
“I hit the ball very well today, which is why I was able to shoot 64. And it could have been even better. But I’m happy all the same as my approach play was also very good. I hit the ball close many times and just needed to tap-in,” said the 41-year-old.
“I also drove the ball very well, which I think was key to playing well today. I missed only one fairway and that really gave me the chance to set-up the birdie chances,” said Chia, who has twice previously clinched the season-opening event on the flourishing domestic circuit in 2012 and 2013.
Leading second round scores>
135 – Danny Chia 71-64
136 – Wisut Artjanawat (THA) 69-67
137 – Mardan Mamat (SIN) 69-68
139 – Kwanchai Tannin (THA) 70-69, Kemarol Baharin 69-70
141 – Kenneth De Silva 72-69, Gavin Kyle Green (A) 71-70
142 – Ben Leong 74-68, Arie Irawan 73-69, Nicholas Fung 71-71
144 – James Bowen (USA) 74-70, Jhonnel Ababa (PHI) 72-72, Shaaban Hussin 71-73