KUALA LUMPUR: Thai sensation Phachara Khongwatmai and Italy’s Nino Bertasio share the lead at 11-under 133 after the second round of the Maybank Championship at Saujana Golf and Country Club on Friday.
Phachara, 19 was earlier the sole leader through a stunning bogey-less round matched with seven birdies for a seven-under 65.
But his joy only lasted a short while after the 30-year-old Bertasio replicated his score of 68-65 to close the second round.
“I am very happy with my score. I’ve never come on the European Tour like this before. I’ve come in second but never in the lead like this,” said Phachara, who was also in Malaysia in January for the EurAsia Cup.
Like Phachara, Bertasio is also making his second appearance at the Maybank Championship and is seeking his first win on tour. He made the cut at both the Abu Dhabi and Dubai tournaments to finish in tied 53rd and 45th, respectively.
Just a stroke behind is former World No 1 Lee Westwood after he fired a new tournament record of 10-under 62 for a two-day total of 134.
Westwood, 44, is no stranger to Malaysia as he won the Malaysian Open in 1997 and 2014.
The 23-time European Tour winner hopes he can end his four-year title drought.
“I missed the opening two cuts this year but today, I had fun out there. I am pleased and hopefully I can build from it tomorrow,” said Westwood.
Also making the cut are Japan’s Yuta Ikeda, three-time European Tour winner Marc Warren of Scotland and Phachara Khongwatmai of Thailand.
The projected cut of four-under par meant that 81 golfers, including Malaysia’s Gavin Green, Nicholas Fung, Amir Nazrin and Ben Leong, have made it through for the weekend.