Trio tied for halfway lead in Ipoh

Marc Ong ©The ClubHouse
Marc Ong ©The ClubHouse

Ipoh: Singapore’s Marc Ong joined  Jake McLeod and Cory Crawford of Australia at the top of the leaderboard as a trio of Malaysians remain in contention at the halfway stage of the 112th Malaysian Amateur Open.

The 18-year-old posted a second round two-under 70 to share a one-shot advantage on two-under 142 at Royal Perak Golf Club with overnight co-leaders McLeod and Crawford, who carded successive 71s on Friday.

Young amateur Solomon Emilio Rosidin and local favourite Low Khai Jei kept the chase alive with matching 71s of their own to remain tied fourth with China’s Zihao Chen (71).

The top-ranked Malaysian in the field, Mohd Wafiyuddin Abdul Manaf fired a tournament best of four-under 68 to move within two strokes off the leaders on even-par 144 alongside  Hong Kong’s Shinichi Mizuno (71), Jarryd Felton (72) and first round pacesetter Johnson Poh (73).

The halfway cut came at 14-over 158 with the top 60 and tied players advancing into the weekend rounds.

Having won the boys’ under-18 at the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final last month, Ong marched around confidently, no thanks to four birdies in five holes around the turn but missed the chance of claiming the outright lead with a double bogey on the 11th.

“I had a good day out there and converted my chances early on to move to six-under through 10 holes but I let it slip towards the end. Nonetheless, a two-under round keeps in position to challenge for the title, so I’m pretty happy.

The 18-year-old admitted that the softer fairways and greens due to an overnight storm played into his advantage. “We play regularly in Malaysia, so we’ve learned how to adapt to wet cowgrass layouts. The softer greens were ideal but I had to take some more aggressive lines on my iron shots to get the release I wanted,” noted Ong, who believes that tomorrow’s third round will be pivotal.

Jake McLeod ©The ClubHouse
Jake McLeod ©The ClubHouse

Also starting on the back nine, McLeod began on the right footing with a couple of early birdies before holing out for an eagle on the sixth to make the turn strongly on four-under for the day. He added a further birdie but dropped four successive bogeys through 17th to remain in a share of the lead.

“It is not a bad spot to be in after two rounds. The fairways and greens were a little soft but the preferred lies ruling helped. I hit the ball pretty good but had a couple of three putts to concede four straight bogeys, which hurt a little bit,” said the 19-year-old Queenslander.

McLeod admitted that the hot and humid conditions at Royal Perak was something he has to overcome if he is to add to his collection of domestic titles.

“The heat did get to me especially on the back nine and that surely affected my concentration. It’s going to be important to keep myself hydrated and stick to my gameplan – keep the ball in play and give myself decent chances for birdies.”

Leading second round scores (Malaysian unless stated):
142 – Marc Ong (SIN) 72-70, Jake McLeod (AUS) 71-71, Cory Crawford (AUS) 71-71
143 – Low Khai Jei 72-71, Solomon Emilio Rosidin 72-71, Zihao Chen (CHN) 72-71
144 – Mohd Wafiyuddin Abdul Manaf 76-68, Shinichu Mizuno (HKG) 73-71, Jarryd Felton (AUS) 72-72, Johnson Poh (SIN) 71-73
146 – Gregory Foo (SIN) 71-73, Danthai Boonma (THA) 73-73
147 – Bryan Teoh Wiyang 76-71, Chan Tuck Soon 74-73
148 – Muhd Afif Mohd Razif 74-74, Udayan Mane (IND) 76-72, Thomas Tan (SIN) 75-73, Maung Maung Oo (MYN) 75-73
149 – Yuma Ohno (JPN) 77-72, Ervin Chang 76-73, Simarjeet Singh (IND) 74-75, Kevin Caesario Akbar (INA) 72-77, Justin Raphael Quiban (PHI) 75-74