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Kiradech flies into lead on the back of an eagle
March 5, 2010

Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat held a one-shot lead at the weather-hit Maybank Malaysian Open on Friday, thanks to a sensational chip-in eagle.

The former world junior champion jumped into pole position after negotiating 14 holes of his second round in five-under-par at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club to lead the US$2 million event on nine-under-par.

A shot back was Spaniard Alejandro Canizares, who was amongst those lucky enough to finish his round in 69 for a two-day total of eight-under-par 136. Asian Tour stalwart Angelo Que of the Philippines and Denmark’s Soren Hansen were a further stroke back on 137 after returning identical 67s in the morning session.

Malaysian duo Danny Chia (71) and M. Sasidaran (73) continued to fly the Malaysian flag, lying on 142 in the co-sanctioned Asian Tour and European Tour tournament.

Following a lightning storm which stopped play for two hours and 20 minutes in the afternoon, 58 players failed to complete the second round and will return on Saturday morning (7.45am) to finish their remaining holes.

Korean star K.J. Choi kept himself in the hunt for a second Malaysian title in five months where he is seven under for the tournament after playing 16 holes in two-under, which included an eagle two. Two-time Maybank Malaysian Open winner Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand was a further stroke back where he was even par through 16 holes as well.

Kiradech, 20, rose to the top of the leaderboard when he holed his third shot from 30 yards out at the par five fifth hole to give himself another shot of earning his first Asian Tour victory. Putting in new clubs in his bag seems to have paid off handsomely.

“I’m very happy. I was very lucky on that eagle. It wasn’t quite dark and one of my flight mates wanted to stop but I wanted to continue and chipped in for eagle. Finishing with an eagle was great,” said Kiradech, who finished fourth at the season-opening Asian Tour International on home soil after leading into the final round.

Kiradech knows he must maintain his “A” game to finally prevail on the Asian Tour. “This time is much different because this tournament is bigger with a lot of top players like Thongchai. But I need to keep going and concentrate hard. I wasn’t playing good before playing here. I changed to new clubs before the Asian Tour International and didn’t feel comfortable with it. I changed to another set of clubs before coming into this tournament.”

Canizares, whose father Jose Maria was a member of Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup team on four occasions, put himself in position to challenge for a second career victory following his lone success at the 2006 Russian Open.

“I am pretty pleased with that, especially considering I finished in the dark. I couldn’t see anything and I made a pretty good par putt. I pulled my second shot into the last and was in the semi-rough. I decided to putt it and I should never have done that. I left myself a horrible eight foot putt for par, downhill and on a nasty line but I almost shut my eyes and just hit it – thankfully it went in,” said the Spaniard.

A two-time winner on the Asian Tour, Que is hoping to break the bank and land what would arguably be his biggest career victory yet. He triumphed in a domestic tournament last month and challenged for the Asian Tour International.

“I have been hitting it good for the past two days but holed more putts today. Everything pretty much worked out fine except for one hole (where he bogeyed the 12th hole). Five-under on this course, and in this heat is good,” said Que, who started strongly with four consecutive birdies from the third hole.

Choi was happy to stay in touch with the leaders. “I’ll try and go for birdies. If I’m able to stick to that game plan, I won’t go wrong,” said the Korean star, who is a seven time PGA Tour winner.

“No problem for me at all (in regards to the weather disruptions). I’m used to this sort of delays,” he added.

Leading second round completed scores

136 - Alejandro Canizares (ESP) 67-69
137 - Angelo Que (PHI) 70-67, Soren Hansen (DEN) 70-67
138 - Brett Rumford (AUS) 71-67, Johan Edfors (SWE) 69-69
139 - Chapchai Nirat (THA) 69-70
140 - Jason Knutzon (USA) 73-67
141 - Peter Lawrie (IRL) 69-72, Matthew Griffin (AUS) 72-69, Chinnarat Phadungsil (THA) 67-74, Stephen Gallacher (SCO) 72-69
142 - Marco Ruiz (PAR) 71-71, M. Sasidaran (MAS) 69-73, Thaworn Wiratchant (THA) 70-72, Scott Strange (AUS) 69-73, Thomas Bjorn (DEN) 68-74, Danny Chia (MAS) 71-71, Fredrik Andersson Hed (SWE) 77-65
143 - Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) 72-71, Unho Park (AUS) 70-73

58 players to return on Saturday at 7.45am for resumption of second round




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