Mardan Mamat raised hope of a potential famous home victory in the Caltex Masters Presented by Carlsberg, Singapore 2004 when he took the clubhouse lead with a second round four-under-par 68 on Friday.
The Singaporean number one had to play 22 holes at Laguna National Golf and Country Club today after failing to complete his first round on Thursday due to bad weather. However, he proved to be a marathon man, shooting two birdies in his remaining six holes of the first round for a 67 before going out again to shoot six more birdies in round two.
Mardan's two-day total of nine-under-par 135 earned him a one-shot lead in the US$900,000 event, which is jointly sanctioned by the Asian and European Tours. India's Jyoti Randhawa, Asia's number one in 2002, Korean-born New Zealander Eddie Lee, American veteran Greg Hanrahan, England's Barry Lane and Ireland's Damien McGrane share second place on 136.
Due to yesterday's delay of over two hours, the second round did not complete this evening, with 12 players to return on Saturday morning.
Mardan's superb run provided the buzz of the clubhouse.
"I played really well and things went the right way. I putted well and kept to my game plan," said Mardan, who has two runner-up finishes in Asia.
"My concentration has been very good in the last two rounds. Coming into this week, I had expected the weather to play up and I'd set my mind thinking that I'll have to deal with it. It didn't bother me at all (to have to come back this morning to finish his first round).
"Hopefully, things will go my way but you can't say what will happen this weekend. I just want to concentrate hard and take it one step at a time just think of my next shot," he added.
The 36-year-old Mardan said his swing coach Kel Llewellyn, who he hooked up with last September, has given him the impetus in his career. This season Mardan has posted top-five finishes in Myanmar and Thailand, results that reinforce his belief that a breakthrough triumph is around the corner.
"I've worked with Kel since last September and so far, it's been good. I can't tell you what he is teaching me as it's a secret!" said Mardan.
A pep talk from yoga guru, Sukhdev Singh, before the round propelled Indian star Randhawa up the leaderboard as he shot eight birdies in his second round of 64. He could have hit a career best nine-under to tie Mardan but his birdie attempt from 18 feet at his last hole, the ninth, hit the edge of the cup.
"Sukhdev told me to play freely, to free my mind and be aware of what I was doing. His talk helped me and I started playing well. I did everything right, almost flawless and no bogeys today He's my yoga guru and physical
trainer and this is only the second time he's traveled with me," said Randhawa, whose effort equalled the course record held by Australia's Nick O'Hern but is not considered official as the preferred lie ruling was being used.
Singh was instrumental in Randhawa's rise to Asian number one in 2002. Then, Randhawa broke his collarbone in a motorbike accident which ruled him out for six months but the yoga guru got Randhawa back on his feet again and the golfer capped a great comeback by winning the Asian Order of Merit title the same year.
After completing his first round in 64 with a par on his 18th hole this morning, New Zealand's Lee found birdies hard to come by as he battled to a level par 72 in the second round to trail the leader by one stroke. He had two birdies against just as many bogeys.
"I played well again but didn't covert many putts. I had a good start with a birdie on my first hole but could have got another birdie at the next and just missed. It's all about momentum. Still, I'm happy with the way I'm hitting the ball and I'm looking forward to tomorrow," said the Korean-born Lee, who won the Maekyung Open in Korea as an amateur in 2002.
In-form Thai Thongchai Jaidee, winner of the European Tour-sanctioned Carlsberg Malaysian Open last month, recovered from a poor front nine of 37 and stormed home in 31 for a 68 which left him on 139, well in the hunt for the weekend. He ended the day alongside the likes of Kiwi star Michael Campbell and Norway's Henrik Bjornstad, who shot back-to-back eagles on the 14th and 15th holes en route to a 66.
Scotland's Colin Montgomerie, who needs a good week here to return into the world's top-50 ranking and qualify for next week's Players Championship in the United States, carded a 69 and his 140 total is five shots off the lead.
Defending champion Zhang Lian-wei, who received an invitation earlier this week to play in the US Masters next month, will likely squeeze into the weekend play right on the expected cut-off mark of even par 144.
Leading second round scores (12 players to complete round two on Saturday morning) 135 - Mardan Mamat (SIN) 67-68 136 - Jyoti Randhawa (IND) 72-64, Eddie Lee (NZL) 64-72, Damien Mcgrane (IRE) 68-68, Greg Hanrahan (USA) 68-68, Barry Lane (ENG) 71-65 137 - Kyi Hla Han (MYN) 68-69, James Kingston (RSA) 68-69 138 - Peter Lawrie (IRE) 68-70, Roger Chapman (ENG) 70-68 139 - Michael Campbell (NZL) 69-70, Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 71-68, Simon Khan (ENG) 70-69, Nick O'Hern (AUS) 71-68, Thammanoon Srirot (THA) 69-70, Henrik Bjornstad (NOR) 73-66, Chen Yuan-chi (TPE) 68-71 140 - Terry Price (AUS) 70-70, Adam Groom (AUS) 72-68, Kang Wook-soon (KOR) 70-70, Colin Montgomerie (SCO) 71-69, Brett Rumford (AUS) 71-69 141 - Peter Hanson (SWE) 68-73, Clay Devers (USA) 71-70, Patrik Sjoland (SWE) 70-71, Lin Wen-tang (TPE) 68-73, Lee Sung-man (KOR) 72-69, Hideto Tanihara (JPN) 71-70, Soren Hansen (DEN) 73-68, Marten Olander (SWE) 73-68.