Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, February 10: Bernd Wiesberger became the first man to sink nine consecutive birdies on the Asian Tour and European Tour as he seized a one-shot halfway lead at the Maybank Championship on Friday.
The towering Austrian got hot from the seventh hole to 15th hole at the Saujana Golf and Country Club to shoot a spectacular nine-under-par 63 for a 12-under-par 132 aggregate in the US$3 million co-sanctioned tournament.
Masters Tournament champion Danny Willett of England, who at 15th in the world is the highest ranked player in the field, surged into contention with a 67 to trail Wiesberger heading into the weekend rounds.
Asia’s challenge was carried by Indian prospect Shubhankar Sharma and Korean star K.T. Kim, who both shot 68s to share fifth place, four shots off the pace.
A further stroke back and bunched on 138 include the likes of 2015 Asian Tour Order of Merit champion Anirban Lahiri of India (68), countryman Shiv Kapur (67) and Hong Kong Open champion Sam Brazel of Australia (71).
The 31-year-old Wiesberger, who has won in Indonesia and Korea previously, finished runner-up in his last visit to Malaysia two years ago and his career equaling low round has set him up for fourth European Tour title.
Interesting Facts for the Day
- Wiesberger became the first man to shoot nine consecutive birdies on the Asian Tour and European Tour. Craig Spence and Prayad Marksaeng held the previous mark of eight straight birdies shot in 2003 and 2001 respectively. Wiesberger’s feat, which included a total of 11 birdies against two bogeys, will not be considered an official record due to the preferred lie ruling being in effect.
- Wiesberger missed two greens and needed only 26 putts in his round of 63, which equaled his career low 18-hole score.
- Wiesberger has three European Tour victories in his career, one of which is co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour. He also won the 2013 Indonesian Masters on the Asian Tour. He was also part of Team Europe which won the EurAsia Cup against Asia last year.
- Wiesberger started his year with a T4, T37 and T32 finish in the Middle East. He concluded last season with four top-five finishes in seven starts. He also had a tied seventh during the run of form and is currently ranked 38th in the world.
- Willett has five European Tour victories. He won twice last season, including his first Major title at the Masters Tournament.
In 36 holes, Willett has dropped only one bogey at the par five eighth hole in the second round. He has made 12 birdies throughout two days.
- David Lipsky, who is tied third, made nine one-putts in his round, four to save par to keep the bogeys off his card of 67.
- Lipsky has two Asian Tour victories and won the Order of Merit title in 2014. He won the Qualifying School in 2012 to earn his card in Asia.
- Kim has won 13 times on the Japan Golf Tour, including three times last season, and twice on the Asian Tour. A former double Asian Games gold medalist, he finished tied third at the Myanmar Open two weeks ago.
- Sharma has posted finishes of T11, T9 and T4 in his last three Asian Tour tournaments. His best finish on the Asian Tour was third place at the 2016 Bangladesh Open. He turned pro in 2013 and has won four times on the Indian circuit.
- A total of 70 players made the weekend cut set at 142, including Malaysians Gavin Green (T19, 139), amateur Daeng Abdul Rahman (T29, 140), Danny Chia (T42, 141), Ben Leong (T42, 141), Arie Irawan (T51, 142) and Nicholas Fung (T51, 142).
- Reigning Asian Tour number one Scott Hend made the cut after a fine 66 for a 140 total. He tweeted on Thursday night that he would donate his irons and golf bag to charity if he missed the cut. Hend will still donate his equipment to title sponsor Maybank’s charity of choice on Sunday.
“Apart from that I just hit them pretty close and felt like I had a good idea of what the ball was going to do on the green today again which was nice.” – Bernd Wiesberger
Bernd Wiesberger (Aut), Second Round 63 (-9), Total 132 (-12)
I really tried to cut down on the shots. I felt a bit beside myself to be honest, I just kept it going, I felt like I was on a good run and I felt comfortable pretty much the whole day after my bogey on four. I hit really good shots and I just felt calm out there. It felt kind of natural, I hit pretty good shots and really only holed two long ones which were the last birdie of the nine on 15 and about a 20-footer on 11.
Apart from that I just hit them pretty close and felt like I had a good idea of what the ball was going to do on the green today again which was nice. It was nice to birdie the last. I felt like it was a good finish to what was a great round. I obviously felt a bit disappointed on 16 and 17 to let it slip a bit but all in all it was amazing out there and really good fun. The guys (Carlos Pigem and Kiradech Aphibarnrat) kept me at ease and let me just do my thing and it was good chemistry out there.
Danny Willett (Eng), Second Round 67 (-5), Total 133 (-11)
I played really good yesterday and it was a little bit scrappy today, but there was a storm brewing a few hours ago and the wind was flicking around so it was tough to get the club right so I scored nicely this afternoon. I holed a couple of nice putts when I needed to. I missed a couple of good chances too but if someone told me at the start of the say five under I would have bitten their hand off.
K.T. Kim (Kor) – Second Round 68 (-4), Total 136 (-8)
I’m putting better. Everything is pretty good but putting has been good. Last year, for the last six months, I didn’t putt good. So I changed my putting style in December. Last time, I addressed with the putter on the heel but I have now made the putter a bit flatter to the ground. I’m also trying to putt from low to high to get the ball to roll better from off the face. It feels much better.
If I can play another three or four under round, I’ll be happy and will have a chance to win. I hope to win an European Tour title but we’ve got two rounds to go. It’s not easy. There are many good players on the leaderboard but I’ll give it a try.
Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) – Second round 68 (-4), 136 (-8)
Really pleased. Played pretty solid. Got the start I wanted and made four birdies on the back nine (his opening nine) and kept it going on the front. Pretty happy. Had a few chances for birdies but couldn’t convert. I think I played pretty solid. I only missed three greens on the front nine and made good up and downs. Pretty pleased and just want to continue doing the same. It’s great to finish well. It’ll be good if I can just do the same thing this weekend.
132 – Bernd WIESBERGER (AUT) 69-63.
133 – Danny WILLETT (ENG) 66-67.
135 – David LIPSKY (USA) 68-67, Mike LORENZO-VERA (FRA) 70-65.
136 – Shubhankar SHARMA (IND) 68-68, K.T. KIM (KOR) 68-68.
137 – Marcel SIEM (GER) 66-71, Sam BRAZEL (AUS) 66-71, Shiv KAPUR (IND) 70-67, Anirban LAHIRI (IND) 69-68, Matteo MANASSERO (ITA) 71-66, Alexander LEVY (FRA) 69-68, James MORRISON (ENG) 70-67.
138 – Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 66-72, Siddikur RAHMAN (BAN) 69-69, Robert ROCK (ENG) 71-67, Romain WATTEL (FRA) 68-70, Marc WARREN (SCO) 63-75.
139 – Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 69-70, Lee WESTWOOD (ENG) 73-66, Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 71-68, Lucas BJERREGAARD (DEN) 69-70, Pablo LARRAZABAL (ESP) 72-67, Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 70-69, Fabrizio ZANOTTI (PAR) 70-69, Niall TURNER (IRL) 68-71, Gavin GREEN (MAS) 68-71, Gregory HAVRET (FRA) 69-70.
Maybank – Humanising Financial Services
Maybank is among Asia’s leading banking groups and South East Asia’s fourth largest bank by assets. The Maybank Group has an international network of 2,400 offices in 20 countries namely Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Hong Kong SAR & People’s Republic of China, Bahrain, Uzbekistan, Myanmar, Laos, Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia, Mauritius, Great Britain and the United States of America. The Group offers an extensive range of products and services, which includes consumer and corporate banking, investment banking, Islamic banking, stock broking, insurance and takaful and asset management. It has over 44,000 employees worldwide (www.maybank.com)
GlobalOne (Emerald Evolution Holdings Sdn Bhd) is an executive lifestyle sports promoter and we create sports event ownerships.
We specialise in providing the full spectrum in sponsorship event management and have an excellent track record in planning and delivering on PGA European Tour golf events for Malaysia (Maybank Malaysian Open), Singapore (Singapore Masters) and Indonesia (Indonesia Open) since 1999. We have strong relations with sports governing bodies, the media and commercial sponsors and technical partners to deliver on the bottom line.
We assist all our clients to create strategic, high-return, best practice sponsorship to provide a strong, unified vision, across departments and stakeholders, of the broad range of marketing and business objectives that can be achieved through this sponsorship. We also form and maintain strong relationship with players’ managers to source the best players. GlobalOne has staged a highly successful and prestigious tournament in Asia – the Maybank Malaysian Open, (2006 – 2015) which is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the Asian Tour providing the event with Official World Ranking status.
About the European Tour
The European Tour celebrates men’s professional golf on a global stage. In 2016, the European Tour International Schedule features 47 tournaments in 27 countries, all part of the Race to Dubai, the year-long competition which crowns the European Tour Number One at the end of the season, a title claimed in 2015 by Rory McIlroy for the third time.
Since its formation in 1972, the European Tour has witnessed 25 Members celebrate a total of 51 Major Championship titles between them, enjoyed ten Members attaining the pinnacle of World Number One and has celebrated its diversity as players from 36 different countries have won on Tour.
The European Tour also manages the Challenge Tour, which features 28 tournaments in 22 countries in 2016, and the Senior Tour, which features 13 tournaments in nine countries in 2016. It is also the Managing Partner of Ryder Cup Europe, the body which, alongside the PGA of America, administers golf’s greatest team contest, The Ryder Cup.
The European Tour broadcasts live coverage of its tournaments to over 490 million homes in more than 150 countries every week, generating in excess of 2200 global broadcast hours for each event. It also enjoys the support of many of the world’s leading business brands with Rolex, BMW, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Emirates and Titleist as Official Partners.
About the Asian Tour
As the official sanctioning body for professional golf in Asia, the Asian Tour leads the development of golf across the region, enhancing the careers of its members while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of the game. The Asian Tour, through its membership of the International Federation of PGA Tours, is the only recognised pan-Asian professional golf tour in Asia. This unique feature positions the Asian Tour at the pinnacle of professional golf in Asia; providing its events with Official World Ranking status. Tour Partners include ECCO (Official Footwear Sponsor), FENIX XCell (Official Apparel Supplier), Hilton Worldwide (Official Hotel Partner), Titleist (Official Web Partner), Bloomberg TV (Official International Media Sponsor), Bloomberg Businessweek Chinese (Official Business Publication Sponsor) and Rolex (Official Timekeeper). Sentosa, Singapore is the Home of the Asian Tour which also has an office in Kuala Lumpur.
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About Saujana Golf & Country Club
Founded in 1984, Saujana Golf and Country Club offers two 18-hole golf courses namely ‘Palm Course’ and ‘Bunga Raya Course’. These courses are exquisitely designed for championship play by the renowned golf course landscaped architect, Ronald Fream Design Group California, USA & Ted Parslow of E&G Parslow, Australia. The two world renowned courses, have been accorded countless international accolades including “The best Championship Course in Asia (Palm Course)” by Asian Golf Monthly 2005 and # 69 “Top 100 Best Courses outside the USA (Bunga Raya Course)”by Golf Digest 2005. Further voted in the World’s Top 1000 Golf Courses by Rolex & 6th Toughest Course in the World (Palm Course) by CNNGo.com 2012. SGCC is the 15th Member of the exclusive European Tour Properties, only the third outside of Europe and the first in Malaysia to be an official European Tour Destination. Saujana Golf & Country Club is also nestled alongside the beauty of two hotels, namely The Saujana Kuala Lumpur and The Club Saujana Resort.