Pre-tournament favourite Charl Schwartzel already has one eye on a Monday finish after finishing round two of the weather-delayed Maybank Malaysian Open one shot shy of the leader.
Schwartzel, who won back-to-back tournaments in December last year by a combined total of 23 shots, carded a second round of 68 to finish alongside China’s Ashun Wu on nine under par in Kuala Lumpur.
But after the former Masters champion signed his card, a two-and-a-half-hour delay due to the threat of lightning meant that half the field were unable to complete their second rounds on schedule.
Big-hitting Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat birdied his last hole of the day to retain his lead, but he was only able to complete nine holes before darkness fell.
Schwartzel, who bogied twice late in the day – which consisted of 25 holes – said: “If I was a bit sharper I could have really separated myself but the game is good and shows me if I keep doing that, hopefully by Sunday, or whenever we finish, I will be on top.
“I can’t be too hard on myself because it’s extraordinarily hot out there. 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.”
World No 3 Luke Donald partially recovered from his opening round of 74 and was even par after seven holes in the second round. Three-times major winner Padraig Harrington, who opened his campaign with a strong 69, was one under through six holes.