Nathan Holman two shots ahead at Maybank Championship Malaysia
By Andy Charles
Last Updated: 20/02/16 4:22pm
Nathan Holman extended his lead to two shots at the halfway stage of the Maybank Championship Malaysia at Royal Selangor.
Australian Holman led by one stroke after an opening round of 64 and for a long time he appeared set to go into the weekend as many as five clear, only to be pegged back late on by Englishman Richard Bland.
Holman, who won the Australian PGA Championship in December, carried his fine form from Thursday into the second round, picking up birdies at the third, fourth and sixth holes to move to 10 under.
Six pars followed before another birdie at the 13th, and Holman showed a bogey would not derail him when he responded to dropping a shot at the 14th by birdieing the next three to move to 13 under.
At the time he was five shots clear of the field, the chase being led by Danny Willett, but Bland produced some excellent golf to keep Holman close.
Bland was two under for his front nine on Friday but, having started at the 10th, began his back-nine with birdies at the first, second and third to move into second place on his own.
He picked up another shot at the eighth and, for the second day running, was able to make it round without dropping a shot.
Willett was battling fatigue for much of Friday and had to battle hard to make it round in a two-under 69, staying in contention for a big weekend if he can regain his energy.
"I'm struggling a bit with my body," Willett said. "My energy levels collapsed on the back nine and I started making a few silly mistakes. I'm going to see the physio then catch up on some rest, because I'm feeling very tired.
"But the flags were also quite tricky today and the wind's picking up a bit, so I can't see the scoring being too ridiculous. And I would've taken eight under after two rounds."
The Ryder Cup hopeful is in a four-way tie for third place along with Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines, Korea's Soomin Lee and Spaniard Jorge Campillo.
Asian Tour favourite Thongchai Jaidee is one shot further back on seven under, but it was a bad day for England's Tommy Fleetwood, who slumped into a tie for 28th after carding five bogeys in a three-over round of 74.
It was a similarly forgettable day for former world No 1 Martin Kaymer, who made only one birdie in a round of 73 to finish on a two-over par total and miss the cut by three strokes.
But one person celebrating was America's Casey O'Toole, who reached halfway on four under and also carded a hole-in-one at the 12th. His prize for the ace - one million HHonors points from the Hilton hotels and resorts group.
"I don't know how far one million points go, but I've stayed in some pretty bad hotels in Asia. So, it'll be very nice to stay in some Hilton hotels instead," said O'Toole. who is based in Bangkok.
"I didn't see it go in, but when I heard the yells I realised what had happened. I've had four or five (aces), but this is my first in a competition. So, this is the one that really counts."