Singapore’s Lam Chih Bing fired a superb seven-under-par 65 for the joint halfway lead with overnight pacesetter R. Nachimuthu of Malaysia at the PGM Johor Championship on Thursday.
Lam, 38, sank an eagle, six birdies and one bogey at the Johor Golf and Country Club to tie Nachimuthu on 12-under-par 132 in the RM200,000 (approximately US$55,400) Asian Development Tour tournament.
Nachimuthu, who opened his campaign with a 64, carded a solid 68 to stay in the hunt for a first ADT title. Another Malaysian Nicholas Fung, who won the ADT Order of Merit in 2013, charged into contention following a 67 which left him one back of the co-leaders while S. Murthu of Malaysia shot a 69 to lie three back.
Lam is hoping to return into the winner’s enclosure after losing his full playing rights on the premier Asian Tour in the past two seasons. “I’ve played nicely the last two days. Just hitting it solid and minimizing the mistakes on the golf course,” said Lam.
“It’s a change playing on the ADT but it’s a good opportunity for me to regain my game and confidence. I’ve already had two top-five finishes on the ADT this season, so it’s coming along nicely.”
After getting to five under for the day through 10 holes, Lam nailed an eagle on the second hole, rifling a radar-guided six iron approach from 180 meters out to a foot of the flag. His only blemish was a dropped shot on six.
“The eagle was a nice one. I hit a good drive down the fairway and produced a solid iron in,” he said.
Nachimuthu, a former number one on the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour, dropped his first bogey of the week on the fifth hole but stayed on track to become the third Malaysian winner on this season’s ADT.
“I stuck to my game plan and overall, it was okay. I missed about a four-footer for the bogey while the other birdies were from inside six feet. I’m feeling comfortable and quite relaxed. Two more days to go and I’m just focusing on what I need to do,” said the 45-year-old.
The slightly built Fung, who featured in the inaugural EurAsia Cup during Team Asia’s thrilling draw with Europe last year, rolled in a 30-foot monster putt for birdie on eight which got his round going.
“I struggled early on with the way I was hitting the ball but I gained momentum later. I didn’t have a good warm-up but after a few holes, I felt better,” said Fung.
The winner of the PGM Johor Championship will take home a winner’s prize purse of US$9,436 and earn six Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points.
The ADT will reward the top-five finishers on the Order of Merit at the end of this season with Asian Tour cards for 2016.
With the Olympic Games looming in 2016 where golf will be reintroduced as a medal sport, players in the region can earn their spots in Rio de Janeiro by earning OWGR points through the Asian Tour and ADT.
For more information on the ADT, please visit www.asiandevelopmenttour.com
Leading second round scores
132: R. Nachimuthu (Mas) 64-68; LAM Chih Bing (Sin) 67-65
133: Nicholas FUNG (Mas) 66-67
135: S. Murthy (Mas) 66-69
136: Sean RIORDAN (Nzl) 70-66
137: Hans JAMIL (Mas) 70-67, Shaaban HUSSIN (Mas) 65-72, Casey O’TOOLE (USA) 67-70
138: Masaru TAKAHASHI (Jpn) 70-68
139: Michael TRAN (Vie) 68-71, Arwed FISCHER (Ger) 70-69, Wilson CHOO (Mas) 69-70