Malaysian Open reduced to 54 holes after more storms, Aphibarnrat leads

Charl Schwartzel at the Maybank Malaysian Open
Getty Images
Charl Schwartzel arrived at the Maybank Malaysian Open in style on Saturday.
PA Sport

Series: European Tour

Published: Saturday, March 23, 2013 | 12:54 p.m.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- 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 on Saturday. The event is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the Asian Tour

Thailand's Kiranradech Aphibarnrat has a one-shot lead over playing partner Charl Schwartzel going into Sunday's final round, with play scheduled to get under way at 9:45 a.m. local time.

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 in the morning, eight pars and one birdie giving him a 68 and 11-under-par total of 133.

He maintained that cushion when both he and Schwartzel birdied the first hole of their third rounds, but dropped a shot on the next after driving into the rough.

Schwartzel, who saved par from a greenside bunker on the second, was then about to play his third shot to the par-5 third when the sirens sounded to indicate an approaching thunderstorm and the threat of lightning in the area.

Seven players were a shot behind Schwartzel on nine under, including Irish pair Padraig Harrington and Peter Lawrie and former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy.

But one star name missing was that of world No. 3 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.

"I've got a couple of weeks off to get ready for Augusta (the Masters) and I'll obviously be very diligent in my preparation," said Donald, who had got back to level par for the tournament yesterday, but ran up a double-bogey 7 on the 10th Saturday in a back nine of 39.

"I would have loved to go back home in form, but in golf you just never know," he added. "We've seen it many times before when people go into tournaments with very little form and win, including majors. So you just have to keep plugging away and hope it's your turn.

"The greens here are very different from what I play on," he explained. "They are a little slower than what I'm used to and I just didn't adjust or adapt to them. I just couldn't read them for the life of me. I'd think it was right to left and it went the other way. I got John (his caddie) to read a few too and we were seeing the same things.

"Tee to green I wasn't that far off, but it's the first time I've missed the cut in a regular European Tour event since I've been a pro," he said. "So I'm very disappointed for myself and disappointed for the fans who have come out to watch me."