Saturday, 19 November 2011
Chopra slices through the field in Johor  (Getty Images)
Chopra slices through the field in Johor (Getty Images)

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Daniel Chopra will take a two-shot lead into the final day of the Iskandar Johor Open, which has been reduced to 54 holes after further weather delays in Malaysia.

All three days have now been affected by storms at Horizon Hills, leaving tournament officials little choice but to shorten the event.

José-Maria Zamora, Tournament Director of the Iskandar Johor Open, said: “The course became unplayable after the heavy rainfall we received this afternoon, with standing water on a number of the fairways. 

“With that in mind, we had no choice but to suspend play for the day and, due to the disruptions we have already suffered, we have also taken the decision to reduce the tournament to 54 holes. 

“We are confident the course will be ready for the resumption of the third and final round at 7.20am on Sunday morning.”

The leaders will have 17 holes to play when they return on Sunday, after Chopra saw his four shot overnight advantage halved during the second round.

The 37 year old Swede played only one hole on Saturday, parring the opening hole of his third round, and was left to sit and watch as Grégory Bourdy, Padraig Harrington and James Morrison moved to within two shots.

Chopra, who has two US PGA Tour titles but has never won on The European Tour, remains on 13 under par and said: “I would have loved to play. I did some work early in the morning and I felt good. 

“I hit a couple of good shots starting off the round, and then the rain came. It kills a bit of momentum. 

“It will make it more exciting. It is going to be a bit more like a shootout, because there are a number of people still in it with a chance to have a good round. It will be fun - hopefully the weather will hold out.”

The biggest move came from England’s Morrison – who at 60th on The Race to Dubai is trying to cling on to a spot in the Dubai World Championship presented by DP World.

He birdied the last three holes of his second round for a 65, before like Chopra paring the first only for the weather to intervene.

“It was a very nice finish, and I’m glad to be in the cool for a while because it’s getting very hot out there now,” said the former Madeira Islands Open winner. “I hit a decent drive down the last then hit a good hybrid rescue club onto the fringe, and managed to get down in two from there. So I’m very happy.” 

Defending champion and three-time Major winner Harrington got himself into the final group with an approach to six feet at the last, the birdie giving him a second round 67.

“It was important to get as close to Daniel as I could, because we don’t know if there are 18 or 36 holes left to play,” said Harrington, speaking before the reduction was confirmed.

“I was very aware of that coming down the last nine holes, and even on the last hole. The pin is very tight to the water but I decided to attack the flag with my pitch anyway, which maybe I wouldn’t have done if I knew for definite there was still 36 holes left to play. 

“It does change your mindset a little bit, because there’s no point playing it safe at this stage. I need to make up ground, because I’m running out of holes.”

A disappointing season has left the Irishman 76th on The Race to Dubai and the 40 year old is well aware that time is running out for him to secure a place at the Earth Course.

“Even though I haven’t played that many events on The European Tour this season, to miss out on the Dubai World Championship would have to be classed as a below par season for me,” added the former European Number One.

“All year I’ve played better than I’ve scored, but hopefully this week my score reflects my play and I can book my place for Dubai.” 

Like Morrison, three-time European Tour winner Bourdy mounted a strong finish with five birdies in his last six holes taking the Frenchman into a share of second place.

“When I birdied the 13th hole, I started to find my rhythm again,” he said. “I played the last few holes really well, and got myself back into a great position. I’m very happy because even when I wasn’t playing well I stayed patient, and in the end it worked out well for me.” 

The third and final round will resume at 7.20am local time on Sunday.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1LUITEN, JoostNED18-15
2CHOPRA, DanielSWE18-14
T3DAVIES, RhysWAL18-13
6BOURDY, GrégoryFRA18-12
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