Charl Schwartzel moved ominously into contention on day two of Malaysian Open
By Mark Kendall - Twitter: @SkySportsMK. Last Updated: 23/03/13 6:52am
Overnight leader Kiradech Aphibarnrat was still out in front after day two of the Malaysian Open, but Charl Schwartzel moved ominously into contention as weather again affected proceedings.
Having posted a 65 to lead the way on Thursday, Thailand's Aphibarnrat played the opening nine holes of his second round in 33 strokes to reach 10-under-par by the darkness forced a premature end to the action, with two and a half hours of play having been lost earlier on due to a thunderstorm.
It meant the tournament fell even further behind schedule with some players not even having started their second rounds by the time play was called off.
But, as one of the early starters, Schwartzel was able to finish his second round and put himself in a strong position as he posted a nine-under-par halfway total of 135, alongside China's Ashun Wu.
The South African was among 76 players who resumed play at 7:45am local time and completed an opening 67 in style, chipping in for a birdie on the 18th.
That left him two shots off the clubhouse lead held by Aphibarnrat, but it did not take him long to wipe out that deficit when the second round got under way as, starting from the 10th, he birdied his first two holes and picked up two more shots on the 17th and 18th to be out in 32.
Further birdies followed on the third and fifth and, at that stage, the world number 17 - who won back-to-back tournaments in December last year by a combined total of 23 shots - enjoyed a three-shot lead and looked capable of another runaway victory.
Second round leaderboard
-10 K Aphibarnrat (Tha) * 27 holes
-9 C Schwartzel (SA)
-9 A Wu (Chn)
-8 E Molinari (Ita) * 23 holes
Six players at -6
Click here for collated scores
But successive bogeys then followed at the sixth and seventh meaning he had to settle for a 68 and Schwartzel admitted afterwards that the oppressive heat - which forced partner Chris Wood to retire through illness - may have taken its toll.
"I suppose I can't be too hard on myself," said Schwartzel. "It's really extraordinarily hot out there and it was a bit of lack of concentration on the end."
Aphibarnrat managed only one hole before the seemingly daily arrival of stormy weather drove the players from the course, but birdied the third, fourth and ninth holes on his return to climb back to the top of the leaderboard.
Italy's Edoardo Molinari made two birdies in the opening five holes of his second round to move into fourth place at eight-under, while a group of five players including Alexander Noren and Scott Jamieson share fifth at six-under.
World number three Luke Donald, who needed a major improvement on his opening 74 to make the cut, was two-under through seven to get back to level-par for the tournament.