Kuala Lumpur - Unheralded Nathan Holman of
Australia used flawless putting down the stretch to widen his lead to two
strokes at the midway point of the Maybank Championship Malaysia on Friday.
The strapping 24-year-old, who is ranked
176th in the world, manhandled the tree-lined fairways of the par-71 Royal Selangor
Golf Club for a second straight day.
His six-under-par 65 followed an opening 64
and took him to 13-under for the tournament.
Earlier in the day, England's world number
13 Danny Willett had caught Holman on the leader board at eight-under.
But Holman, who teed off later, fired on
all cylinders again to pull away.
Besides driving the ball an average of 300
yards, his putting was superb, particularly down the stretch.
He holed three straight one-putt birdies
from 15 through 17 to put some daylight between himself and the pack.
Holman is now two strokes ahead of
England's Richard Bland and five shots clear of a group of four golfers led by
"When I saw I was three shots clear
after the turn there were a few nerves but I handled myself well and managed to
pick up a couple of birdies coming in," Holman said.
Holman is seeking his second career win
after lifting the Australian PGA trophy in December. Prior to that victory, he
had never cracked the top ten in any event in four years as a pro, according to
the European Tour.
"After winning at home my next aim was
to win a tournament overseas. So it's great to have the chance to tick that one
off the list so soon," he said.
Willett entered the new tournament the hot
favourite after winning the Dubai Desert Classic two weeks earlier.
That win was the latest step forward in a
run of improving play that has catapulted him up golf's world rankings.
Starting on Friday just a stroke behind
Holman, he played well again but was unable to match his opening 65 due to some
Willett confessed to fatigue after a
whirlwind couple of weeks including the Dubai win, a celebratory week off at
home in England, and the long trip out to Malaysia and its hot, humid
"My energy levels collapsed on the
back nine and I started making a few silly mistakes," he said.
He finished on Friday with a two-under 69.
Also in the hunt are three-time former
Asian Tour Order of Merit winner Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, who was six
shots behind Holman, and former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, who was
a further two shots back.
Those failing to make the cut for the
weekend included two-time Major winner and former world number one Martin
Kaymer of Germany.
The $3 million tournament, co-sanctioned by
the European and Asian Tours, is the successor to the long time Malaysian Open,
which has been discontinued due to a sponsorship shift.
Leading second-round scores on Friday in the Maybank Championship
Malaysia at the par-71 Royal Selangor Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur:
129 - Nathan Holman (AUS)
131 - Richard Bland (ENG)
134 - Danny Willett (ENG), Lee Soo-Min (KOR), Miguel Tabuena (PHI), Jorge Campillo (ESP)
135 - Thongchai Jaidee (THA), Marcus Fraser (AUS)
136 - Masahiro Kawamura (JPN), Thaworn Wiratchant (THA), Andrew Dodt (AUS)
- Plaphol Chawalit (THA), Louis Oosthuizen (RSA), Graeme Storm (ENG),
K.T. Kim (KOR), Lucas Bjerregaard (DEN), Gregory Havret (FRA)
- Romain Wattel (FRA), David Lipsky (USA) Alexander Levy (FRA), Casey
O'Toole (USA), Robert Rock (ENG), Prom Meesawat (THA), Rafael
Cabrera-Bello (ESP), Stephen Gallacher (SCO), Song Young-Han (KOR),
Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND)