Four-stroke advantage for halfway leader Haziq

Haziq Hamizan © Ravi Chitty (The ClubHouse)

Batu Gajah: Unfamiliar grounds but thriving – it has just been that kind of week for Haziq Hamizan at the Clearwater Sanctuary Resort.

The 24-year-old saw his overnight lead quadruple after a second round of four-under 68 today at the RM125,000 Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Clearwater Classic, taking him to ten-under-par 134 and a step closer towards his maiden professional victory.

Defending PGM Order of Merit winner R. Nachimuthu was four strokes adrift off Haziq, moving up the leaderboard after a flawless five-under 67 while Kemarol Baharin (69), Nicholas Fung (70) and Anis Helmi Hassan (70) took a share of third on five-under 139.

Recovering from a poor opening round of 75, Md Rashid Ismail, who jetted back after competing in last week’s Enjoy Jakarta Indonesian Open on OneAsia, equalled the round’s best of 66 to lie two shots further back alongside Shaaban Hussin (70).

But the attention was definitely on former national Haziq, who is leading a professional tournament for the first time since joining the paid ranks in 2009.

Starting from the back nine, Haziq had an encouraging start after birdieing the opening 10th but a bogey on the and another birdie on18th saw him make the turn on seven-under. Refocusing his efforts, the Klang Valley-native got into a stride with five birdies including three consecutive ones from the sixth but a moment of indecisiveness cost him on the last when he dropped a further bogey to stay clear by four shots.

“There’s not much to complain really with my position today – it is better than yesterday. It’s a new feeling to be leading a professional event and I’m experiencing first hand how to deal with  the expectations that come with it. I am pretty happy with my round, the conditions were much drier today and I managed to keep it clean from tee through green on most holes,” said Haziq.

“I really paid the price on the last, I was quite uncertain with my second shot on the par-five and I got myself a bad lie behind a tree for my approach. It  just took the rhythm of me and I three-putted for my second bogey. In a way, I’m glad that I made that mistake because it was good reminder that I have to sink those crucial putts if I’m going to take the title [on Saturday].”

With his rivals giving chase, Haziq expects a tough final two rounds. “I don’t want to think about winning just yet – no matter how tough it is. I’m just going to give it my best shot and take whatever that comes my way,” he added.

Nachimuthu was delighted with his bogey-free effort on the day. “I hit my share of fairways and greens. Many of my balls landed quite close to the pin and I had many makeable putts out there, “said Nachimuthu.

A total of 46 professionals will advance to the final two rounds after meeting the halfway cut, which came at seven-over-par 151. The best placed amateur was 13-year-old Lucas Yee, who narrowly missed the mark after finishing with a two-day total of eight-over-par 152 despite a 74 second round.

Leading second round scores
134 – Haziq Hamizan (66-68)
138 – R.Nachimuthu (71-67)
139 – Kemarol Baharin (70-69), Nicholas Fung (69-70), Anis Helmi Hassan (69-70)
141 – Rashid Ismail (75-66), Shabaan Husin (71-70)
143 – Wilson Choo (76-66), S Murthy (67-75)
143 – Jeremiah Kim (72-71), Danny Chia (70-73)
144 – Mohd Amli (74-70), Mohd Rizal Amin (74-70)