Aphibarnrat leads as sprint finish looms

3/23/2013 10:28:00 AM
Kiradech Aphibarnrat   (Getty Images)
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Getty Images)
The Maybank Malaysian Open has been reduced to 54 holes after the leaders managed just two holes of their third round before play was suspended for the third day in succession.

Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat has a one shot lead over playing partner Charl Schwartzel, and the round will resume on Sunday morning at 9:45am local time.

Tournament Director David Garland said: “We’ve had another very large storm this afternoon, so suspended play for the day and after further discussions with our major sponsor Maybank the tournament has been reduced to 54 holes. 

“We want to wrap it all up with the crowd and everyone here tomorrow.”

Aphibarnrat, fourth in the Avantha Masters last week, was two clear at the halfway stage after completing the last nine holes of his second round this morning; following eight pars with a birdie at the last after a delightful wedge approach to three feet giving him a 68 and 11 under par total of 133.

He maintained that cushion when both he and Schwartzel birdied the first hole, but dropped a shot on the next after driving into the rough and being forced to lay up.

Schwartzel, who saved par from a greenside bunker on the second, was then about to play his third shot to the par five third when the sirens sounded to indicate an approaching thunderstorm and the threat of lightning in the area.

“It’s good for me because I’m getting tired,” said 23 year old Aphibarnrat. “I’ll try to play on my game and focus. 

“I’ve got 16 holes to go; I want to concentrate on my own game and I’ve got a chance.”

Seven players were a shot behind Schwartzel on nine under: Irish pair Padraig Harrington and Peter Lawrie joined by former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy, Dane Anders Hansen, China’s Ashun Wu and French duo Gregory Bourdy and Victor Dubuisson.

But one star name missing was that of world number three Luke Donald, who had earlier missed the first halfway cut of his professional career in a regular European Tour event after adding a 73 to his opening 74.