Gerry Norquist, a 36 year old former insurance salesman from Arizona, employed straight-hitting as the best policy in the Benson & Hedges Malaysian Open, presented by Carlsberg, at Saujana Golf & Country Club.
It earned Norquist a massive five shot lead over the field at the halfway stage of the co-sanctioned event, which went into the weekend without two of the pre-tournament favourites, Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke, who both missed the cut.
Meanwhile, Norquist, who had one hole to play in the first round before play was halted by a thunderstorm, returned on Friday morning to record an opening 67 before going out and matching that score in his second round for a 10 under par total of 134.
It was an impressive performance by the winner of the Volvo Asian Match Play in China in 1998. He opened up a five stroke advantage over four players, Spain’s Tomas Jesus Munoz, defending champion Ed Fryatt of England, another American Dean Wilson and Korean Choi kyung-ju.
He said: "The No1 key is putting the ball on the fairway. If you are in the rough you afre at a tremendous disadvantage and, really, the only way to consistently hit the greens is to do it from the fairway."
Munoz, 27, who needed four attempts to claim his European Tour card at the Qualifying School finals, finished a long day as the leading European following rounds of 68 and 71 for a five under par total of 139.
But it was goodbye to pre-tournament favourite, Westwood, and Clarke, who shot his worst round since carding an 80 in the first round of the Scottish Open in 1996. His 79, as the heat and humidity took their toll on many of the Europeans, left him at 11 over par on 155 while European Golfer of the Year Westwood’s level par 72 for 148 proved to be one stroke too many.
World No6 Westwood, assisted by a glorious eagle at the 13th, improved by four shots on his opening round but wasn’t out of the 65 players who made the cut on 147 and better. He said: "I’m very disappointed because I don’t miss many cuts and it’s especially frustrating to miss out over the course I’m attached to."
"I’m very rusty. It was typical of what happens if you take eight weeks off. I’ve lost my scoring touch. I’ve gone from walking 30 miles a week to not walking anywhere for eight weeks. I needed the rest and I’m paying for it now.
"I’m not moaning. I needed the rest and it will do me good in three weeks time when I’m back into the swing of things."
Clarke said: "It was very disappointing. I played terribly, putted terribly, drove terribly and chipped terribly. Everything was way off. It’s not the start I was looking for and I have a lot of work to do before I tee off in Dubai."
Andrew Coltart of Scotland moved up into a tie for seventh spot on 141, three under par, after a second round of 71.