Schwartzel and Wu share second-day lead at Maybank Malaysian Open

Charl Schwartzel at the Maybank Malaysian Open
Getty Images
Charl Schwartzel, at the Maybank Malaysian Open, played 25 holes in the sweltering heat on Friday.
By news services

Series: European Tour

Published: Friday, March 22, 2013 | 11:47 a.m.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and Wu Ashun of China have the clubhouse lead in the Maybank Malaysian Open after the second round was suspended because of darkness on Friday.

Schwartzel and Wu shot 4-under 68s Friday to finish 9 under overall at the European and Asian Tour event.

Some 75 players, half of the remaining field, were unable to complete the round. Scoreboard leader Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand was 10 under through nine holes.

Schwartzel and Wu had a three-stroke lead on China's Liang Wen-chong (68), England's Lee Slattery (70) and Scotland's Scott Jamieson (72). They were one shot ahead of a group at 5 under, including Rafa Cabrera-Bello, who had a 67.

Aphibarnrat moved into the outright lead on 10 under with a front nine of 33, while world No. 3 Luke Donald, who needed a major improvement on his opening 74 to make the cut, was 2 under through seven to get back to level par for the tournament.

Among other prominent players in the field, Edoardo Molinari is fourth place, at 8 under through five holes of his second round. Anders Hansen is tied for 10th at 5 under through nine holes, while Matteo Manassero is tied for 20th at 4 under through two rounds. Padraig Harrington is also 4 under, but has played only six holes of his second round. Last week’s winner Thomas Aiken is 3 under through 5 holes, while big-hitting Spaniard Alvaro Quiros is 2 under through 36 holes.

Cabrera-Bello had a difficult journey to the tournament. His bag and passport were stolen, so he flew from London to Madrid and back again to get a replacement before the 13-hour flight to Kuala Lumpur.

''I was on a train going from my home in Switzerland to the airport and I had my bag stolen, so all my personal stuff – passport, money, credit cards, computer, camera, iPad – was gone,'' Cabrera-Bello said.

On Thursday, thunderstorms caused suspension of the first round with half the field still on the course.

Pre-tournament favorite Schwartzel, who won back-to-back tournaments in December last year by a combined total of 23 shots, already has one eye on a Monday finish, thanks to Friday’s 2 ½-hour delay due to the threat of lightning. And with thunderstorms an almost daily occurrence at this time of year, plans for an early finish on Sunday to allow the country's prime minister to attend the prize-giving ceremony before going on to the Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix at nearby Sepang already look in jeopardy.

The second round will resume at 7:45 a.m. local time on Saturday, with the third round beginning not before 1:15 p.m.

Schwartzel, looking to become the seventh South African winner on the European Tour in 2013, was 4 under par after 11 holes of his first round when a thunderstorm forced play to be abandoned for the day on Thursday. He was among 76 players who resumed play this morning at 7:45 a.m. local time and completed an opening 67 in style, chipping in for a birdie on the 18th.

That left him 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 10th, 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. At that stage he enjoyed a three-shot lead and looked capable of another runaway victory, but bogeys at the sixth and seventh meant he had to settle for a 68.

"I suppose I can't be too hard on myself," said Schwartzel, who played 25 holes in the sweltering heat, which contributed to playing partner Chris Wood withdrawing because of illness. "It's really extraordinarily hot out there and it was a bit of lack of concentration on the end. I made a bad decision on six with club selection and then hit a very poor shot on seven (into a greenside bunker).

"It was a long day out there but overall I feel I played pretty well and am at least giving myself a chance. I am playing consistently," he added. "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."