Charl Schwartzel (Getty Images)
Charl Schwartzel moved into a share of the clubhouse lead before the second round of the Maybank Malaysian Open was suspended due to further thunderstorms in Kuala Lumpur.
Three behind Kiradech Aphibarnrat overnight, the South African’s first task was to complete the last seven holes of his opening round, which had been delayed.
Schwartzel, who won back-to-back tournaments in December last year by a combined total of 23 shots, was four under par after 11 holes of his first round when thunderstorms forced play to be abandoned for the day.
The South African was among 78 players who resumed play this morning at 7.45am local time and completed an opening 67 in style, chipping in for a birdie on the 18th.
That left the 2011 Masters Tournament champion two shots off the clubhouse lead held by Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat, but it did not take him long to wipe out that deficit when the second round got under way.
Starting from the tenth, Schwartzel birdied his first two holes and picked up two more shots on the 17th and 18th to be out in 32, while further birdies followed on the third and fifth.
Just as Schwartzel was threatening to run away from the field again, he dropped two shots in a row on the sixth and seventh and had to settle for a round of 68.
That gave him a halfway total of nine under par and a share of the clubhouse lead with Ashun Wu, who had also returned a 68 with five birdies and just one bogey.
“I can’t be too hard on myself because it’s extraordinarily hot out there,” said Schwartzel. “I lost a bit of concentration towards the end and made bad decisions on the sixth and seventh – poor club selections. I was in the middle of the fairway both times and made bogey. I hit a very poor shot on the seventh.
“It’s been a very long day but through it all I thought I played pretty well. At least I’ve given myself a chance; I’m playing consistently and if I had been a bit sharper today I maybe could have separated myself from the field, but I know I’m playing well and I’m feeling good.”
Scotland's Alastair Forsyth was two off the lead with two holes of his second round to play after picking up four birdies when the hooter sounded, alongside Aphibarnrat who had parred the first.
Wu, who drew level with Schwartzel when he rolled in a 12 foot birdie putt at the ninth, his last, said: “I’m very happy today and my putting is good. I read the lines very well and that made me relax out there.
“I think it’s important to play with a strategy in mind this week and choosing of the right clubs to use will matter as well. I’ve been in a good form lately and I hope to maintain that.
“It’s great that I have the opportunity to play in this co-sanctioned event this week. It’s going to be very competitive because we’ve got all the top players from the Asian Tour and European Tour in the field.”