Not since the 2012 Scottish Open at Castle Stuart has Marc Warren suffered a more disappointing and damaging end to a round, having gone from three shots clear of the field to six off the lead in the space of just six holes on the second day of the Maybank Championship in Malaysia.
After covering his first 30 holes at Saujana County Club in Kuala Lumpur in 12-under-par and without a single bogey on his card, the 35-year-old saw his game collapse as he dropped three shots in four holes before running up a triple-bogey 7 at the ninth, his last.
It left Warren, a three-time European Tour winner, having to settle for a 75, which dropped him into a share of 14th on six-under-par, six shots behind Bernd Weisberger after the Austrian took over at the top of the leaderboard after reeling off nine birdies in a row in his 63. The burst helped Weisberger earn a one-shot advantage in the £2.4 million event over Masters champion Danny Willett (67).
Warren, who held a three-shot lead with four to play before opening the door for Jeev Milkha Singh to claim the Scottish Open title at Castle Stuart in 2012, looked to be in total control as he backed up his opening 63 with two birdies - at the 13th and 17th - on his outward nine in Kuala Lumpur.
He then moved three shots ahead following a third birdie of the day at the third but, as Wiesberger started to make his move, Warren’s untimely stutter with those dropped shots at the fourth, fifth and seventh holes then became more than just a blip with that horrible finish.
The European Tour record for birdies in succession is eight, but Wiesberger’s effort will not earn him a place in the record books due to the preferred lies being in operation. “It was amazing out there and really good fun,” he said. “I felt comfortable pretty much the whole day.”
Willett’s performance over the first two days is a timely boost in the countdown to his title defence at Augusta National, where Tiger Woods’s participation is surely now in doubt after the 14-time major winner announced that he’d pulled out of two upcoming events on the PGA Tour.
Woods, who last week pulled out of what was just his third event since August 2015, withdrawing before the start of Friday’s second round at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, has now said he will also have to miss the Genesis Open and the Honda Classic on medical advice. “My doctors have advised me not to play the next two weeks, to continue my treatment and to let my back calm down,” Woods said on his website. “This is not what I was hoping for or expecting.”
Elsewhere, Carly Booth jumped 21 spots to 14th at halfway after a second-round 68 in the Vic Oates Open in Australia while Peebles player Craig Howie signed off with a 65 to finish seventh, just behind compatriot Liam Johnston, in the South African Amateur Stroke Play at Eastwood in George.