A GOOD night’s sleep saw veteran S. Murthy return with a stunning seven iron shot for an eagle to lift his game back into contention at the halfway stage of the Maybank Malaysian Open on Saturday morning.
The 42-year-old, then went into his third round, four-off the leaders after a 67-70 saw him at seven-under, but his game was yet again stopped short by a lashing thunderstorm.
It might just be another blessing as he hit a bogey in his second hole itself, when rain halted third round play at 4pm, for him to go for glory on Sunday.
Murthy almost blew his second round as he appeared to be slipping when he soared to three over through eight holes before being saved by fading light on Friday.
A disappointed Murthy came out charging in the morning, shooting an eagle on the sixth hole, four birdies and a bogey for a two-under-par 70 and a seven-under-par 137 total to lie in tied seventh place at the cut.
“This is golf,” explained Murthy about his quick turn in fortunes.
“I kept my focus, kept aiming at fairways and greens. I holed out from 170 yards with a seven iron on the (par four) sixth hole (for eagle). It was dead centre and it went in the hole. It was a nice feeling. And then I birdied eight and nine. I need to stay focused. Two more rounds to go.”
With his best finish being tied 56th in 1999, Murthy could well provide the silver lining as Malaysia has never produced its own champion at the Maybank Malaysian Open.
Murthy is game to give it a shot but reckons he needs the crowd support to give him a lift as he challenges the likes of leader Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Wu Ashun and Charl Schwartzel for the Seagram Trophy.
“Since I’m already in this position, there’s nothing to lose,” he said.
“I always enjoy the crowd support. Looking forward to some crowds in the third round following my group.”
With the typical Malaysian afternoon thunderstorms being a bane for players, Murthy knows he must remain patient to keep up his glorious run.
“I waited so long (to tee off yesterday) and it wasn’t the weather’s fault that I played poorly. It was my own fault for the bad start. As a player, you have to prepare well. I hit a few good shots but made two three putts on 11 and 14 for bogeys. Suddenly, I was three over for the day. Then play stopped which was quite good for me,” said Murthy.
“As a golfer, you deal with the weather problems. I prepared myself. I hit a few balls yesterday while waiting for my tee time (2.50pm) and then started to eat a bit and have some drinks to relax myself. Hit some balls again and kept warm.”
He arrived at KLGCC a bit earlier than usual yesterday morning to spend more time at the practice putting green, which paid off as his putter got hot on the back nine.
“After last night, I felt bad. I couldn’t really take it especially the 11th hole. It is a tough par three but I hit the green and then made a three putt. I felt bad after that and then missed again on 14. When I came back this morning, I spent a bit more time on the practice green. I just tried to stay calm.
“I’m swinging it good, it feels great. I was putting well this morning.”
Since turning 40, Murthy has enjoyed a new lease of life by winning twice on the local PGM Tour. He credited his coach, whom he knows only as “Mathy”, for his turn around in golfing fortunes.
“I’ve been working on my back swing with my coach. Previously, it was more inside and now it’s more parallel. I’ve worked with Mathy for two years now. I saw him and then started winning two local tournaments. It’s helped a lot.”
Amateur Gacvin Green was just a step behind at five-under at the 10th hole of the third round, while Danny Chia was even par at the ninth hole.