Padraig Harrington has ensured himself four rounds in Malaysia this week after comfortably making the halfway cut at the Maybank Championship in Kuala Lumpur.
On his seasonal comeback from a niggling wrist injury, the triple Major winner added a one-over par 73 to an opening 70 to sit inside the top-50 at one-under par in the Saujana clubhouse heading into the weekend.
Harrington returned four bogeys and three birdies in an understandably disjointed display but it would be hard to envisage him sitting still for too long in the clubhouse, wrist injury or no wrist injury, given his assessment of his round yesterday that proved three shots better.
“I struggled with my driving on the course today,” he tweeted. “Wasn’t much better than my warm up where my launch monitor estimated my driving to be that of a 20 handicap golfer.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there’s been no time for tweets today!
Thomas Pieters will take a one-shot lead into the weekend in Malaysia after the golf course showed its teeth on Friday. The big-hitting Belgian carded four birdies and a single bogey in his second round at Saujana Golf and Country Club to move to eight-under par.
“I struggled off the tee early on, at the end it was a lot better,” said Pieters. “It didn’t feel like a good day to me, I made the best of what I had. I gave myself a lot of chances but I couldn’t seem to get the ball in the hole.
“I birdied 16, the par three, it was a nice putt. But other than that I felt like I was missing putts all over. I tried not to over read the putt on 16. When you miss a couple of putts you try to read too much into it. I just put it down, looked once, and gave it a go.”
“It was my idea (to advertise space on his golf bag). My brother has a creative company, but it was actually my idea. I thought, why not, it’s empty. I thought it was quite funny, and it got picked up this week. I think it was Jamie Gough that tweeted and a few people were talking about it. If Eddie Pepperell wants to put his face on it, I will happily take it.
”It had seemed Pieters and his fellow challengers might be fighting for second rather than top spot when overnight co-leader Nacho Elvira opened up a four-stroke lead over the chasing pack early in the afternoon. But as the wind picked up, the Spaniard dropped three shots in two holes on the back nine to slip to seven under par, where he sits alongside Indonesia’s Danny Masrin in a tie for second place.
It’s a first appearance at this event – which is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the Asian Tour – for four-time Major winner Ernie Els, and after a second round 70 he sits at six under par alongside fellow South African Dean Burmester, American pair David Lipsky and Paul Peterson, Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand, Germany’s Maximilian Kieffer and Australian Lucas Herbert.
“The last four years have been a real struggle, so I’m really happy that I’m playing good golf again,” reflected Els.
“My body feels good and the ball striking is there now. On the greens I’m starting to feel really comfortable, so that means I can have a chance again to play with these guys. That’s what I want, to feel like I can have a chance playing Saturdays and Sundays and that’s kind of my goal.
“I’ve got to keep doing what I’m doing and eliminate the little mistakes. The one on 17 wasn’t very good. Got to try to get into the 60s and if you’re within three or four going into Sunday you’ve got a chance. Shubhankar showed that last year, coming out of the pack and winning.”