Pinpoint accuracy helped former USPGA champion Keegan Bradley grab a four-shot lead at the halfway stage of the CIMB Classic in Malaysia yesterday as Phil Mickelson’s swing struggles continued.
Bradley fired seven birdies in his second round of six-under-par 66 to lead the US$7 million PGA Tour event on 13-under, after overnight leader Ryan Moore failed to match the fireworks of his opening 63 and settled for a level-par 72.
Bradley, who won his sole major championship in 2011, said his accuracy needed to continue on the narrow layout if he was to claim a fourth PGA Tour title.
“I’m hitting the ball super straight, it’s hard to remember a time when I have been more dialed in than this last two days,” the US player told reporters.
Fellow US player Moore mixed three birdies with three bogeys in his level-par round to sit second in the 78-man field event, which is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour.
Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat continued to carry the flag for the local players as he briefly shared the lead yesterday before signing for a 69 and a share of third place on eight-under with the US’ Chris Stroud (69).
The burly Thai, who birdied his opening three holes, is a big fan of the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, having won the European Tour’s Malaysian Open there in March.
“I thought of that victory, so the back nine I didn’t move [up the leaderboard] that much,” Kiradech joked of the distraction. “I miss a lot of putts because I think too much.”
Putting was not an issue for his playing partner Mickelson, who hailed his work with the short stick for keeping him in red figures after a 70 put him at three-under in a tie 25th at the halfway stage.
The Open champion, again struggling for swing rhythm, birdied his final two holes after back-to-back bogeys from the 13th had stymied his efforts.
Australian Marc Leishman shot a 65, the best round of the day, to sit tied fifth with Spain’s Sergio Garcia (71) at seven-under. The reduced field meant there was no cut.