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Golf: Brilliant Bradley takes charge at CIMB Classic; Moore, Kiradech in hunt

Keegan Bradley, a three-time PGA Tour winner, followed his opening 65 with a 66 to lead by four strokes at the halfway stage of the US$7 million CIMB Classic in Malaysia. Photos: Asian Tour.

Keegan Bradley, a three-time PGA Tour winner, followed his opening 65 with a 66 to lead by four strokes at the halfway stage of the US$7 million CIMB Classic in Malaysia. Photos: Asian Tour.

Kuala Lumpur, October 25: American Keegan Bradley turned on the heat with a sizzling six-under-par 66 to move to 13-under and open up a four-shot lead at the halfway stage of the US$7 million CIMB Classic in Malaysia on Friday.

 

First-round leader Ryan Moore of the USA is second after an even-par 72 over Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club’s West course.

 

Thai star Kiradech Aphibarnrat, the current Asian Tour Order of Merit leader, signed for a 69 to share third with American Chris Stroud on eight-under in the PGA Tour event, which also includes 10 leading players from the Asian Tour.

 

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, the current Asian Tour No. 1, shot 69 to share third place.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, the current Asian Tour No. 1, shot 69 to share third place.

Spaniard Sergio Garcia (71) and Australian Marc Leishman (65) were a shot back in a share of fifth, while Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama (68) was among six players on six-under. World No. 3 Phil Mickelson, the tournament’s highest-ranked player, carded a 70 to lie three-under in a tie for 25th.

 

Bradley, winner of the 2011 PGA Championship, wielded a hot putter to sink seven birdies, including five on his homeward stretch. The 27-year-old needed only 26 putts for the second straight day as he put himself in prime spot to land the top prize of US$1.26 million.

 

“Yeah, these last two rounds were really fun, some of the best golf I’ve played in a long time. Obviously, I’m in a great spot here with two rounds to go,” Bradley said.

 

The World No. 15, a standout for the USA in the Ryder Cup last year, had a winless season on this year’s PGA Tour, but has recently put in the hours sharpening his short game.

 

“I worked very hard these last couple of weeks, a lot of short game, a lot of chipping,” he said. “I felt as in control of my golf ball today as maybe I’ve ever felt, so that’s a really good sign on this golf course. When I’m hitting the ball like this and my putter kind of matches up, I’m normally going to be right in there contending.”

 

Moore, a two-time PGA Tour winner, endured a frustrating day on the slick greens in his second round, which needed 29 putts, four more than on Thursday.

 

“It wasn’t the round I had yesterday, but amazingly enough it wasn’t too dissimilar. I actually controlled the ball really well,” said the 30-year-old. “I hit some pretty good shots overall, but just didn’t make any putts. I just didn’t get it to those eight to 12 footers. I seemed to be in that 15 to 20 foot range and wasn’t able to convert them.”

 

Kiradech continued to shine against the PGA Tour stars as he returns to the site of his Malaysian Open win in March, an event co-sanctioned by The European Tour and Asian Tour.

 

Playing alongside Mickelson and defending champion Nick Watney, the burly Thai birdied his opening three holes before conceding a bogey on 14 and closing with another birdie.

 

“Every time I play here, I feel like I’m home, I guess due to the weather and a lot of fans follow and shout for me. That gives me a lot of power to play in this country,” said the 24-year-old.

 

“In the first two rounds, I’ve started great. Yesterday I was five-under on the front nine and today I started with three birdies in a row, which made my game easier, made my golf easier. But on the back nine, I started thinking about maybe I can win here again and then missed a few birdie chances.”

 

CIMB Classic (Round 2), Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, Malaysia

131 – Keegan Bradley (USA) 65-66.

135 – Ryan Moore (USA) 63-72.

136 – Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 67-69, Chris Stroud (USA) 67-69.

137 – Sergio Garcia (ESP) 66-71, Marc Leishman (AUS) 72-65.

138 – Martin Laird (SCO) 68-70, Harris English (USA) 71-67, Chris Kirk (USA) 67-71, Gary Woodland (USA) 68-70, Stewart Cink (USA) 70-68, Hideki Matsuyama (JPN) 70-68.

139 – Bill Haas (USA) 72-67, Wade Ormsby (AUS) 70-69, K.J. Choi (KOR) 68-71, Graham DeLaet (CAN) 72-67, Shiv Kapur (IND) 69-70.

140 – Aaron Baddeley (AUS) 73-67, Josh Teater (USA) 74-66, Jerry Kelly (USA) 71-69, Jeff Overton (USA) 73-67, Kyle Stanley (USA) 73-67, Kevin Stadler (USA) 71-69, Nicholas Thompson (USA) 69-71.

141 – Charles Howell III (USA) 69-72, Phil Mickelson (USA) 71-70, Boo Weekley (USA) 67-74, Tim Clark (RSA) 72-69, Charley Hoffman (USA) 69-72, Billy Horschel (USA) 72-69, Rory Sabbatini (RSA) 67-74, Camilo Villegas (COL) 70-71.

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