Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie found luck was on his side as he moved back among the leaders during the second round of the Carlsberg Malaysian Open at Saujana Golf Club, Kuala Lumpur, picking up five strokes in 13 holes to move within three strokes of the lead before a thunderstorm brought a premature end to the day’s play.
Anyone of a superstitious nature would be heartened by two incidents affecting Montgomerie as first he saw a black cat on his way to the course at Saujana Golf Club and then he was struck by a rather large bird dropping as he made his way to the tenth tee.
“I got hit by a bird walking from the ninth green to the tenth and got a lot of bird poo on my shirt and trousers,” said Montgomerie. “Some of the guys said that was lucky. I didn’t feel very lucky at the time but you never know. It could be an omen.”
Moments later Montgomerie surged up the leaderboard, birdieing the 12th and then holing from six feet in torrential rain on the 13th for an eagle to move to five under par for the round, four under par for the tournament and only three strokes adrift on the lead held by Lee Sung-man of Korea and Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand.
His finish was a marked contrast to the previous day when he dropped five shots in the last five holes as the heat and humidity of Kuala Lumpur took its toll on the seven-time Volvo Order of Merit winner. But armed with various ice packs to combat the heat, Montgomerie was back to his best.
“It was a very timely birdie on the 12th and eagle on the 13th to go from one under to four under,” said Montgomerie. “That was a big move in the right direction. I have five very important holes tomorrow and if I can get a couple of birdies it is game on.”
Montgomerie’s Ryder Cup team-mate Paul McGinley leads The European Tour challenge in the event joint sanctioned by The European Tour and the Asian Tour, a two under par 70 leaving the Irishman just one shot off the pace on six under par 138, a score matched by American Greg Hanrahan.
McGinley has been coming to Asia for over a decade and drew on all his experience to set himself up for the weekend. Rather than hating the grainy greens as he did when he first started coming to Asia, he has learnt the art of reading the nap and the grain, knowledge he put to good use at Suajana Golf Club.
“I use it as my friend,” said McGinley, who will always be remembered for holing the winning putt at The De Vere Belfry in The 2002 Ryder Cup Matches. “I used to hate the grain but now I like it. That’s experience from coming out here for over then ten years.”
McGinley is also benefiting from the changes in technology in recent years. On his last visit to Suajana he struggled to get within 50 yards of the par fives but four years on he finds the greens well within reach. That, however, proved his undoing as his over- aggression on two of the par fives cost him two strokes.
“This is not a course you can go out and play aggressively,” added McGinley. “If you do it will bite you. I lost ground taking two sixes on the par fives. That’s what hurt me but other than that it was a good day.”
Lee, who was born deaf, shot a four under par 68 to join Thaworn at the top of the leaderboard on seven under par 137. Lee communicates by lip reading through his father, Lee Kan-kun, and played on the Nationwide Tour for four years. After losing his Nationwide Tour card in 2003 he was encouraged by Linde German Masters champion K J Choi to play the Asian circuit and promptly won the Qualifying School to earn his card for 2004.
“I practised at Saujana for a week last month and like this course as it is very American-styled,” said Lee. My overall game was good and I am not surprised by my position as I’ve been playing well.”
Thaworn, who has won three titles on the Asian Tour and twice finished fourth in the Order of Merit, climbed to the top of the leaderboard with a five under par 67.
“I drove the ball well again which is why I scored well,” he said. “It’s a very tough course, very undulating so I’m very happy with the score.”
The second round will resume at 08:00 local time with the third round commencing not before 11.45am.