South African Charl Schwartzel seized control of the Thailand Golf Championship with a flawless second round 65 giving him an imposing four-shot lead over the chasing pack.
Last year’s Masters champion, who has battled injury for much of a disappointing season, returned to the clubhouse at seven-under for the day to declare “half the job is done” after a high-class display at the Amata Spring course.
Racing against fading light after 90 minutes were lost to a downpour earlier on, the rangy South African hit birdies at 14, 15 and 16 to catapult him above impressive early second-round leader Daniel Chopra.
Schwartzel came second at last year’s event to current world No. 6 Lee Westwood, who posted a solid — if unremarkable — 69 to go in well off the pace at five-under overall.
Earlier Sweden’s Chopra surged to the top of the leaderboard, as big names including Westwood and Hunter Mahan failed to make an impact.
Chopra, who has not won on the Asian Tour for more than a decade, sparkled for a second day, making six birdies in a five-under 67 and ending with an impressive 10-under overall.
Ryder Cup hero Sergio Garcia was among a clutch of players on six-under for the tournament, including Bubba Watson.
Taiwan’s Lu Wen-teh was on two-under after 15 holes, while Sung Mao-chang was in danger of missing the even-par cut when he finished on one-over with three holes left to play when the second round resumes this morning.
Lu’s compatriot Lin Wen-tang, Hsu Mong-nan and Chan Yih-shin did miss the cut.
Additional reporting by Staff writer
Globe-trotting Australian Marcus Fraser fired a three-under 69 to be the halfway leader of the Australian Open at The Lakes course yesterday.
Fraser, who has played on three continents in the past three weeks, holed four straight birdies and an eagle in the second round to lead the field at six-under into the weekend rounds.
He led by a shot from first-round leader John Senden and fellow Australian Brendan Jones.
A shot further back was Australian Nick Cullen, who posted his first professional win this year at the Indonesia Open.