Flawless Overton in control at MINES

Jeff Overton © Raf Sanchez / PSI for Carbon Worldwide

Kuala Lumpur: The last man who got into the US$6.1 million CIMB Asia Pacific Classic, Malaysia found himself tied for the halfway lead on Friday.

American Jeff Overton fired a new course record of nine-under-par 62, also his career low round, to share the second day lead with Sweden’s Fredrik Jacobson at the Mines Resort and Golf Club.

Like Jacobson, Bo Van Pelt of the United States also returned a 64 to lie one back going into the weekend rounds of the lucrative event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and PGA Tour.

A member of the US Ryder Cup team last year, the 28-year-old Overton arrived for the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic, Malaysia only on Tuesday evening after as a last-minute replacement following the withdrawal of David Duval.

With a new set of Cleveland irons in his golf bag, which caused him some anxieties as it arrived a day late, the amiable Overton was in imperious form to shoot seven birdies and a glorious eagle on the par four 15th hole to lead on 13-under-par 129 with Jacobson.

“A couple of weeks ago, I changed clubs. My golf has just improved so much. I finished sixth basically the first week I used them, at the McGladrey Classic. I was hitting it really good but kind of struggled with my putter. Today, everything just clicked. I think I made one putt outside eight feet. I was hitting everything stone cold, and it was a lot of fun,” said Overton.

“This golf course is so much fun to play. It’s really challenging. If you’re hitting it great, you can have scoring opportunities. I’m just having a blast.”

Overton started superbly with three straight birdies and turned in 30 with two more birdies on five and eight. The highlight on his back nine was the eagle on 15 when he smashed his driver to six feet of the pin.

“I watched Mark Wilson hit it right at the stick, and I’m like, wow, this is a great little hole. Maybe I can hit my driver, too. I just hit it right at the pin. It came off just perfect, laying there on the front of the green and it rolled up there to six feet for eagle,” said Overton.

Like most first-timers to Malaysia, the American has struggled in the heat and humidity and with jetlag hitting him as well, he was happy to simply complete his round. “On the first hole, I told my caddie I didn’t think I was going to make it. I’m still a little jet-lagged. I woke up at 3 this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. So, really, it’s almost like being up forever,” said Overton, who is searching for his first career victory.

Fredrik Jacobson © Raf Sanchez / PSI for Carbon Worldwide

After opening with a bogey, Jacobson, a former winner of the Hong Kong Open, was rock solid as he took advantage of his straight-hitting game to pepper the pins at the Mines Resort for eight birdies on the card.

“These last few days, the driving has been setting up a lot of opportunities. I’ve been driving it well and on this course, if you drive it on the fairways, it’s not overly long and it gives you opportunities,” said the 37-year-old Swede, winner of the Travelers Championship on the PGA Tour this year.

He made some good par saves, including one on 18 when he splashed out from the greenside trap to a foot. “Growing up, I spent a lot of time in the rough, in the bunker, in different lies. Like in the backyard, I would try to chip over a stone wall. I played a lot of weird shots through my youth and I think that by challenging myself that way, I have learnt a lot of different shots which come in useful on the golf course,” he said.

Leading second round scores
129 Jeff Overton (USA) (67-62), Fredrick Jacobson (SWE) (65-64)
130 Bo Van Pelt (USA) (66-64)
133 Mark Wilson (USA) (67-66), Stewart Cink (USA) (67-66), Jimmy Walker (USA) (66-67), Jhonattan Vegas (VEN) (64-69)
134 Cameron Tringale (USA) (66-68)
135 Camilo Villegas (COL) (69-66), Jerry Kelly (USA) (69-66), Carl Petterson (SWE) (68-67), Robert Allenby (AUS) (63-72)