Ricky Barnes of the US plays a bunker shot in the second round of the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic Malaysia yesterday. — Picture by Osman Adnan
Pariya, who had an opening round of 67, was in dazzling form with a six-under 65.
By Jugjet Singh
THAILAND'S Pariya Junhasavasdikul and Ben Crane of the United States shared the half-way lead in the US$6 million CIMB Asia Pacific Classic on 11-under 131 at the Mines Golf and Country Club yesterday.
Pariya was in classic form as he after an opening round of 67, he hit a six-under 65. And not to be outdone, Crane returned a seven-under 64 to tie at the top.
Malaysian Shaaban Hussin is entranched at the bottom after returning an identical one-over 72 for a two-over 144 total.
Overnight leader Ricky Barnes and Ryan Moore, both from the United States, were a stroke back while world number eight Luke Donald of England and Australian Adam Scott climbed into contention with a 67 and 65 respectively to lie three behind the leaders.
Three-time Major winner Ernie Els of South Africa warned his rivals he was capable of going low at the weekend after ending the second round in equal ninth place on 135 following a 68.
While the round of the day belonged to Crane, Pariya, with his parents and coach amongst the large galleries, stole the show by storming home with five birdies over the closing seven holes.
“I’m not thinking about the money. I’m just thinking about the lessons I can learn from these guys. Hopefully I can step up to the challenge and play like them,” said Pariya.
"My putting is cooperating very much and my ball striking has been good. If your putting is up there, you’re not far off the lead. We’ve been working on finding consistency in the game and that’s been a reason for my form this year.”
Pariya said he felt more nervous having his coach, Shane Wilding, watching his every shot than playing alongside many of the world’s leading stars.
"It’s the first time he (coach) is watching me and I’m a little nervous as he might see something in my swing but apparently, he hasn’t,” smiled Pariya.
“It’s always one shot at a time but sometimes you see that this guy is so good that you don’t want to get in his way. I’m nearly on top of the lead and I don’t want to shoot 80 tomorrow. Of course these things are in the back of your mind and you have to put it aside. I set my goals for each round which is to enjoy 18 holes with my playing partner. When it comes to my shot, I’ll take care of my own business,” he said.
In his first visit to Malaysia, the 34-year-old Crane took advantage of some solid iron play to give himself a chance of winning a second title of the year.
“It was a fun day. I haven’t really been overseas other than the British Open and we are having a great time and enjoying what Malaysia has to offer,” said Crane, who is making his first start since finishing tied 17th at the Tour Championship last month.
“I got off to a fast start. I hit a nice wedge shot to about three feet for birdie on the first hole and that always feels good and frees you up a little bit. I really did well not to think about results and I didn’t even know what I shot until I was done. But I knew it was something good because I played well all day.”
Scott, who has won titles in China and Singapore previously, showed he was back to his best form after a month-long break in Australia. After making two bogeys in his first four holes, the dashing Australian fired six birdies and an eagle from 25 feet on the 17th to move into contention.
“I certainly felt more comfortable out there, not only with the golf course but with the swing as well. I think there was a bit of rust after a month off. But getting back into a flow of competition golf can take some time and it felt good to put a good one up there today,” said Scott, winner of the Texas Open this year.