MJ Viljoen, a rookie on the Asian Tour having successfully negotiated the Qualifying School in January, took the surprise second-round lead in the Mandiri Indonesia Open today after an eye-catching 10-under-par 62.

The South African, playing in his fourth Asian Tour event, made an eagle and eight birdies to go to 14 under for the US$500,000 event, and a one-shot lead over Thailand’s Nitithorn Thippong, who carded a 65.

Canadian Richard T. Lee fired a 66, here at Pondok Indah Golf Course in Jakarta, and is a shot further back.

“I think I was in a zone today you know. I didn’t really think I was gonna go that low,” said Viljoen, who started on 10 and playing in the last group out made it a thrilling last-minute run to the line with an eagle on the par-five sixth and birdies on eight and nine.

“I think that was my personal best today, by one, so it just kind of happened. I was doing my thing and when I got off the course it was plenty of birdies!”

“I think I was just focused on doing my thing and following my process. So, you know, kind of lost count [of the birdies] and just did my thing, and you know, it was a good day.”

As preferred lies were being played his round could not officially count among the lowest scores on the course.

The 27-year-old is a two-time winner in South Africa and turned professional in 2014.

Nitithorn enjoyed a welcome return to form today. 

The Thai star, 26, had a breakthrough season on the Asian Tour last year, winning twice – at The DGC Open presented by Mastercard and the International Series Singapore – but he has been unable to recapture that form this season, until this week.

“I mean, I played really good on the first couple days, so perfect, without a bogey,” he said.

“Everything was perfect. There’s nothing to complain about.”

Currently in 51st place on the Tour’s Order of Merit (OOM), his best performance came at the GS Caltex Maekyung Open in Korea, where he tied for 11th.

He added: “Before I came here, I just played 18 holes with my girlfriend, and then it’s, I don’t know, I just felt something, and I like figured it out on that round and then I think I can play good. 

“And then I came here, and in the practice round I played like with the same feeling as when I play golf with my girlfriend. Like, do the same feelings and yeah, it has really worked.”

In a tie for fourth, four behind pace-setter Viljoen, are first-round leader Sarit Suwannarut (70) from Thailand, Chinese-Taipei’s Chang Wei-lun (68), Scott Hend (69) from Australia, and Korean Doyeob Mun (70).

Sarit won the season-ending BNI Indonesian Masters last year, which was also the final International Series event of the year, and like Nitithorn he has struggled to replicate that form in 2023. In fact, he has been even further off the pace and is 112th on the Merit list, having made three cuts in seven starts.

Encouragingly, he appears to be back on track this week, although he was disappointed with today’s effort, having opened with a brilliant 64. 

Said Sarit: “The putts did not drop like yesterday, my irons were not so good, my tee shots not really good. So, I might need to fix my putting today and let’s see tomorrow.”

Miguel Tabuena from the Philippines, currently second on the OOM, carded a 70 and is five under, while India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar, who won this event for a record third time last year, came in with a 72 and is two over for the tournament, and, very surprisingly, did not make the cut, which was two under.

Scores after round 2 of the Mandiri Indonesia Open being played at the par 72, 7243 Yards Pondok Indah GC course (am – denotes amateur):
130 – MJ Viljoen (RSA) 68-62.
131 – Nitithorn Thippong (THA) 66-65.
132 – Richard T. Lee (CAN) 66-66.
134 – Chang Wei-lun (TPE) 66-68, Scott Hend (AUS) 65-69, Sarit Suwannarut (THA) 64-70, Doyeob Mun (KOR) 65-69.
135 – Suradit Yongcharoenchai (THA) 68-67.
136 – David Drysdale (SCO) 68-68, Steve Lewton (ENG) 68-68, Ryo Hisatsune (JPN) 66-70.
137 – Guxin Chen (CHN) 71-66, Terry Pilkadaris (AUS) 68-69, Jonathan Wijono (INA) 73-64, Suteepat Prateeptienchai (THA) 70-67, Minkyu Kim (KOR) 68-69, Siddikur Rahman (BAN) 70-67, Chanat Sakulpolphaisan (THA) 71-66, Hung Chien-yao (TPE) 69-68, Settee Prakongvech (THA) 67-70.
138 – Gabriel Hansel Hari (am, INA) 67-71, Douglas Klein (AUS) 70-68, Pavit Tangkamolprasert (THA) 68-70, Ervin Chang (MAS) 70-68.
139 – Hanmil Jung (KOR) 69-70, Lee Chieh-po (TPE) 69-70, Natipong Srithong (THA) 70-69, Miguel Tabuena (PHI) 69-70, Dongmin Lee (KOR) 71-68, Viraj Madappa (IND) 71-68, Chonlatit Chuenboonngam (THA) 72-67, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit (THA) 68-71, Kartik Sharma (IND) 68-71, Panuphol Pittayarat (THA) 67-72, S. Chikkarangappa (IND) 71-68, Gunn Charoenkul (THA) 69-70.
140 – Dodge Kemmer (USA) 70-70, Ian Snyman (RSA) 73-67, Micah Lauren Shin (USA) 71-69, Yongjun Bae (KOR) 69-71, Angelo Que (PHI) 69-71, Deyen Lawson (AUS) 69-71, Michael Maguire (USA) 71-69, Veer Ahlawat (IND) 72-68, Tom Power Horan (AUS) 70-70.
141 – Kevin Akbar (INA) 72-69, Mingyu Cho (KOR) 72-69, Rashid Khan (IND) 68-73, Jaco Ahlers (RSA) 71-70, Wang Wei-hsuan (TPE) 69-72, Denwit Boriboonsub (THA) 74-67, Nasin Surachman (INA) 69-72.
142 – Lloyd Jefferson Go (PHI) 71-71, Matthew Cheung (HKG) 70-72, Marcus Fraser (AUS) 69-73, Kosuke Hamamoto (THA) 72-70, Chapchai Nirat (THA) 73-69, Nicholas Fung (MAS) 75-67, Sadom Kaewkanjana (THA) 71-71, Poom Saksansin (THA) 72-70, Matt Sharpstene (USA) 74-68, Josh Younger (AUS) 72-70, Elki Kow (INA) 67-75, Miguel Carballo (ARG) 72-70, Jarin Todd (USA) 72-70, Runchanapong Youprayong (THA) 70-72.
143 – Seungtaek Lee (KOR) 73-70, Taichi Kho (HKG) 69-74, Danthai Boonma (THA) 76-67, Sangpil Yoon (KOR) 70-73, Rahil Gangjee (IND) 74-69, Jaewoong Eom (KOR) 73-70, Todd Sinnott (AUS) 72-71, Woohyun Kim (KOR) 65-78.
144 – Randy Abemata M Bintang (am, INA) 69-75, Almay Rayhan Yagutah (INA) 72-72, Shahriffuddin Ariffin (MAS) 68-76, Kurnia Herisian Santoso (INA) 69-75, Denzel Ieremia (NZL) 68-76, Tanapat Pichaikool (THA) 71-73.
145 – Kentaro Nanayama (am, INA) 73-72, Mardan Mamat (SIN) 74-71, Jack Thompson (AUS) 72-73, Ben Leong (MAS) 72-73, S.S.P. Chawrasia (IND) 72-73, Wocheng Ye (CHN) 70-75, Harrison Gilbert-Wong (AUS) 72-73, Ben Jones (ENG) 72-73, Sattaya Supupramai (THA) 72-73, Lu Wei-chih (TPE) 69-76, Berry Henson (USA) 70-75, Yikeun Chang (KOR) 75-70, Khalin Joshi (IND) 73-72, Soomin Lee (KOR) 73-72.
146 – Asep Saefulloh (INA) 74-72, Benita Kasiadi (INA) 72-74, Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) 74-72, Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA) 72-74, Zhengkai Bai (CHN) 76-70, Rory Hie (INA) 74-72, Akshay Sharma (IND) 73-73, Indra Hermawan (INA) 72-74, Yonggu Shin (CAN) 71-75, Hendri Nasim (INA) 74-72, Aman Raj (IND) 74-72, Itthipat Buranatanyarat (THA) 73-73, Ben Campbell (NZL) 74-72, Ramadhan Alwie (INA) 76-70, Alex Ching (USA) 72-74.
147 – Sam Brazel (AUS) 73-74, Fadhli Soetarso (INA) 73-74, Jack Murdoch (AUS) 74-73, Prom Meesawat (THA) 74-73, Justin Quiban (PHI) 75-72, Ajeetesh Sandhu (IND) 75-72, Danny Masrin (INA) 73-74, Nicolas Paez (USA) 77-70.
148 – Bradley Taslim (INA) 72-76, Koh Deng Shan (SIN) 73-75, George Gandranata (INA) 73-75, Varanyu Rattnaphiboonkij (THA) 75-73, Taeyoung Lim (am, KOR) 79-69.
149 – Naraajie Ramadhanputra (INA) 76-73, Rusli Abu Abu Bakar (INA) 75-74, Pawin Ingkhapradit (THA) 75-74, Rizchy Subakti (INA) 79-70.
150 – Karandeep Kochhar (IND) 75-75, Peter Gunawan (INA) 74-76.
151 – Honey Baisoya (IND) 76-75, Nick Voke (NZL) 78-73, S. Syukrizal (INA) 78-73, Jonathan Hartono (am, INA) 74-77.
152 – Amadeus C. Susanto (am, INA) 73-79, Joshua Wirawan (INA) 77-75, Michael Tran (VNM) 77-75.
153 – Gordan Brixi (CZE) 82-71, Nathan C. Widjaya (am, INA) 74-79, Jordan Indra Marcello (am, INA) 76-77, Achmad Fani Nazaruddin (am, INA) 76-77.
154 – Jamel Ondo (INA) 79-75, Zulharmen Tabusalla (INA) 76-78.
155 – Kenneth Henson Sutianto (am, INA) 77-78.
158 – Alit Jiwandana (am, INA) 77-81.
164 – Teuku Husein M. Danindra (am, INA) 75-89.
165 – Yudiansyah Y. (INA) 82-83, Ryan Jovan Wijaya (am, INA) 86-79.
-2 (142) was the final cut, 66 players made the cut

Chan Shih-chang, Taiwan – RT
Taewoo Kim #1468, Korea – RT
Atiruj Winicharoenchai, Thailand – DQ
Robby Sugara, Indonesia – DQ

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