Nachi seizes Penang advantage

R. Nachimuthu ©Arep Kulal/PGM
R. Nachimuthu ©Arep Kulal/PGM

Bertam: Former champion R. Nachimuthu blitzed his way to a two-shot halfway lead at the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) ASEAN Penang Masters on Thursday.

The seasoned professional, who claimed the first of his four PGM Tour victories at Penang Golf Resort in 2011, registered a brilliant  six-under 66 for a 134 total.

Arie Fauzi, who opened his campaign with a 67, came home with a three-under 69 to remain second alongside Shaaban Hussin (69) and Vietnam’s Michael Tran (68).

Overnight leader Nakarintra Ratanakul could only manage a round of 72 to fall into a share of fifth with Thai compatriots Chirat Jirasuwan (70) and Taiki Hara (67) as well as locals S. Murthy (67) and Khor Kheng Hwai (69) on six-under 138.

The trio of Mohd Zurie Harun (70), Lim Eng Seng (70) and Mohd Sukree Othman (70) were a further shot back as 61 players advanced into the third round with cut at two-over 146 in RM180,000 tournament co-sanctioned by the ASEAN PGA Tour.

Looking a class apart from the rest on the day, Nachimuthu put together one of the best rounds of his season with a flawless card of six birdies to move ahead of the field.

“I played solid golf today,” said the 42-year-old. “And the important thing was I did not drop any shots. It was also nice to birdie all four of the par-threes and then add two more at the two par-fives on the outward nine.”

Trading seven birdies with two bogeys, defending champion Murthy was delighted to lie four shots off the lead and was encouraged by the rhythm he has found in his swing.

“I am striking the ball well again,” said Murthy, who has yet to register a win in 2013. “Hopefully I can keep it going here. I felt comfortable out there, on a course that is in fine condition, even if it’s a bit wet,” he noted.

Leading second round scores (Malaysians unless stated)
134 – R. Nachimuthu 68-66
136 – Arie Fauzi 67-69, Shaaban Hussin 67-69, Michael Tran (Viet) 68-68
138 – Chirat Jirasuwan (Tha) 68-70, Nakarintra Ratanakul (Tha) 66-72, Taiki Hara (Tha) 71-67, S. Murthy 71-67, Khor Kheng Hwai 69-69
139 – Mohd Zurie Harun 69-70, Lim Eng Seng 69-70, Mohd Sukree Othman 69-70
140 – Apichart Papitak (Tha) 69-71, Mars Pucay (Phi) 71-69, Rory Hie (Ina) 70-70, Akhmal Tarmizee 69-71, Wittawat Sae-Ung (Tha) 71-69