CARMONA, Cavite – South African Jbe Kruger came charging back with two birdies in a windy afternoon to shoot a seven-under 65 and force a three-way tie for the lead with Taiwanese Hung Chien-yao and Lee Chieh-po halfway through the US$1 million Resorts World Manila Masters at the Manila Southwoods.
Kruger was unruffled by the wind that blew from all over on Friday, gunning down five birdies in one of the late flights then hit three more at the back, including the last two to negate a lone bogey on No. 16 and post the tournament-best score on another day of torrid scoring.
He pooled a 10-under 134, the same output put in by early starters Hung, who logged a bogey-free 67, and Lee, who fired an eagle-spiked 66 as the men of the tour sustained their assault on the Masters layout with 52 breaking par, 12 more than in the first round.
Filipino Rufino Bayron also rallied with three birdies at the back and shot a 66, picking up the cudgels for the hosts at 135 in a tie with opening day leader Nicholas Fung of Malaysia, who carded a 69, even as Miguel Tabuena made his move with two eagles for a 68 and a 138, four strokes off the pace.
Japan’s Akinori Tan, Thai Tirawat Kaewsiribandit and Paul Peterson of the US all turned in 67s for joint sixth at 136 while Indian Rahil Gangjee and Thai Arnond Vongvanij fired identical 66s, Masahiro Kawamura and Korean Jeunghun Wang shot similar 69s and England’s Steve Lewton and local ace Jhonnel Ababa both logged 68sfor joint 10th place heading to the weekend play of the country’s richest championship.
“I wasn’t thinking about leading actually. Maybe that’s why I could play with no pressure out there. I just thought it’s still the second round and there is still a lot more to do,” said Hung, who spiked his flawless round with five scrambling pars.
Lee, 21, gunned down an eagle on the par-5 No. 4 and birdies on Nos. 5, 7, 10, 11 and 18 against a lone bogey on No. 12.
“I didn’t know I was leading until the last hole actually but I kind of knew I am going to be up there because I played really good,” said Lee, an Asian Tour rookie.
Late in the day, Kruger sizzled with eight birdies, including five in the first seven holes, and a tap-in feat on the 18th.
Tabuena, who wavered at the finish and settled for a 70 on Thursday, put on a sizzling windup this time, birdying all par-5s and closing out with four birdies in the last six holes at the front for a 31-37.
His 36-hole total of 138 kept him four strokes off Hung at joint eighth but the local circuit’s Order of Merit champion exuded confidence after putting up a solid round despite adverse conditions.
“Expect high scores with this kind of weather, which resulted to bad lies on Nos. 10 and 13 which I both bogeyed,” said Tabuena. “It’s a good thing I recovered and I hope to duplicate this feat in the third round to give myself a good chance at the title.”
Tony Lascuna shot a 69 to move to 139 with seven others while Mars Pucay stood a stroke farther back at 140 after a 68 while pre-tournament favorite Angelo Que carded a second 71 and lay too far behind at 142.
The top 67 players made it to the final two rounds with the cut pegged at even 144 with Aussie Matthew Giles missing the weekend play at 145 despite shooting a five-under 67.
Failing to advance were Robert Pactolerin (74-145), Elmer Salvador (72-146), Michael Bibat (71-147), Charles Hong (73-148) and Frankie Minoza (74-149).