Three share RWM lead
CARMONA, Cavite—Jbe Kruger, the pocket-sized South African who once knocked on the doors of a victory in the country, made a bold move yesterday to share the halfway lead in the Resorts World Manila Masters with two young Taiwanese.
Even in conditions far harsher than the day before, Kruger assaulted the Masters layout here with eight birdies on the way to a seven-under-par 65 to catch Hung Chien-yao and rookie pro Lee Chieh-po with a one-shot lead over Nicholas Fung and local bet Rufino Bayron.
Hung and Lee, young guns with no more than five years of combined pro experience, fired a bogey-free 67 and an eagle-spiked 66, respectively, to be at 134 before Kruger returned his 31-34 card in a late flight.
A former caddy at Apo in Davao, Bayron also wheeled into solid contention by firing a 66 to join first-round leader Fung of Malaysia, who shot a 69 for 135 after 36 holes of the $1 million event presented by Manila Southwoods.
Scoring picked up even if the winds blew harder and the greens rolled quicker as the tournament had the lowest halfway cut in its three-year history at even par, saying goodbye to a handful of prominent names counting defending champion Mardan Mamat of Singapore.
All but three players in the top 44 of the leaderboard cracked par, with local bets Miguel Tabuena and Jonel Ababa shooting 68s to be just four behind.
But the day belonged to big-htting Kruger, the 2012 Avantha Masters champion who finished two shots behind American Berry Henson in the Philippine Open the year before, after turning in the best round of the week and falling two shots off the course record.
“I’m happy,” said Kruger, whose only bogey came on the par-4 16th.
“I’ve always liked playing in the wind and I felt that I just needed to get my putter going. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in contention.”
Hung, a 23-year-old who turned pro four years ago, came out and was able to finish with a flourish this time, unlike on Thursday when he had two of his three bogeys in two of his last holes.
Lee, on the other hand, is making his most determined run at a title since making the tour through Q School last January, his eagle 3 from nine feet on No. 5 helping jumpstart his round.
“The wind didn’t really affect me because I am used to this kind of conditions back home,” said the 21-year-old Lee.
“This is my first time leading an Asian Tour event and I am excited for tomorrow (today’s third round).”
Mamat matched par and had a 36-hole 146, missing weekend play together with several luminaries like Jazz Janewattananond, who had an opening 69 but bombed out after a 76 for 145.
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