Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and Wu Ashun of China were the clubhouse leaders in the Malaysian Open after the second round was suspended because of darkness on Friday.
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Schwartzel and Wu scored 4-under-par 68s to lie 9 under overall halfway through the European and Asian Tours event at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
But 75 players, exactly half of the remaining field, were unable to complete or even start the round, including scoreboard leader Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand, who was at 10 under through nine holes.
For now, Schwartzel and Wu had a three-stroke lead on China’s Liang Wen-chong (68), England’s Lee Slattery (70), and Scotland’s Scott Jamieson (72).
They in turn were one shot ahead of a group of five at 5 under, including Rafa Cabrera-Bello, who posted a best-of-the-day 67 after an opening par round.
The Spaniard fought back after a nightmare start to his journey to Kuala Lumpur. His bag containing his passport was stolen, which meant he had to fly from London to Madrid and back again to get a replacement before the 13-hour flight to KL.
”I was on a train going from my home in Switzerland to the airport and I had my bag stolen, so all my personal stuff – passport, money, credit cards, computer, camera, iPad – was gone,” Cabrera-Bello said.
Schwartzel, 4 under after 11 holes overnight, resumed play at 7:45 a.m. local time and completed an opening 67 in style, chipping in for a birdie on the 18th.
That left him two shots behind first-round leader Kiradech, and he wiped out the deficit with birdies at the 10th and 11th then picked up shots on 17 and 18 to be out in 32. More birdies followed on the third and fifth but, understandably perhaps in the intense heat, he dropped two shots in a row on the sixth and seventh and had to settle for a round of 68.
”I can’t be too hard on myself because it’s extraordinarily hot out there,” Schwartzel said. ”I lost a bit of concentration towards the end and made bad decisions on the sixth and seventh, poor club selections. I was in the middle of the fairway both times and made bogey.
”It’s been a very long day but through it all I thought I played pretty well. At least I’ve given myself a chance; I’m playing consistently and if I had been a bit sharper today I maybe could have separated myself from the field, but I know I’m playing well and I’m feeling good.”
Wu, playing in his first European Tour event of the year, also added a 68 to his opening 67, rolling in a 12-foot birdie putt at the ninth, his last.
”I’m very happy today and my putting is good,” Wu said. ”I read the lines very well and that made me relax out there.”