South African Ernie Els hit a six-under-par 65 to trail halfway leader Mohammad Siddikur of Bangladesh by one shot at the Venetian Macau Open yesterday.
The “Big Easy,” a four-time major champion, struck nine birdies against three bogeys for a two-day total of six-under-par 136.
Siddikur struck 66 in his round which included three birdies over his closing four holes, a running total of 135, in his bid to win a second Asian Tour tournament.
Els said that he was disappointed to miss a two-foot birdie chance at the last hole which would have resulted in a tie with Siddikur for the lead.
“The one little putt I missed at the last will sting a little bit. I was looking at the board and it would have been perfect if I could have been seven under to be in the last group, but it’s fine,” he said.
“I played really nice. I actually made some good putts and hit the ball nicely,” Els said.
The South African was in a group of four players tied for second which comprised Els, Baek Seuk-hyun of South Korea, Elmer Salvador of the Philippines and New Zealander Ben Campbell.
Jay Bayron of the Philippines, Scott Barr of Australia and Japan’s Daisuke Kataoka were a shot behind them.
Siddikur, 28, the first Bangladeshi player to win on the Asian Tour in 2010, is confident about his form going into the next round.
“I finished third here last year and I had good thoughts coming back. I’m hitting it good. I’m in good shape,” he said.
He is also eyeing a dream showdown with Els.
“Ernie [Els] is my idol. I’ve been waiting for a long time to play with him. Last few years, I’ve missed by a few groups playing with him so hopefully this week,” he said.
Veteran Taiwanese Lu Wen-teh was one of a number of players tied for 15th on two-under, while compatriots Hung Chien-yao and Lu Wei-chih were a shot further back.
Another Taiwanese, Tsai Chi-huang, was one shot further adrift.
Additional reporting by staff writer