Maybank Malaysian Open: Aphibarnrat holds lead

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THE Maybank Malaysian Open has been reduced to 54 holes after the leaders managed just two holes of their third round before play was suspended for the third day in succession yesterday.

Tournament director David Garland said: “We’ve had another very large storm this afternoon, so suspended play for the day and after further discussions with our major sponsor Maybank the tournament has been reduced to 54 holes.

“We want to wrap it all up with the crowd and everyone here tomorrow.”

Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat has a one-shot lead over playing partner Charl Schwartzel going into today’s final round, with play scheduled to get under way at 9:45am local time.

Aphibarnrat, fourth in the Avantha Masters last week, was two clear at the halfway stage after completing the last nine holes of his second round this morning, eight pars and one birdie giving him a 68 and 11-under-par total of 133.

He maintained that cushion when both he and Schwartzel birdied the first hole of their third rounds, but dropped a shot on the next after driving into the rough.

Schwartzel, who saved par from a greenside bunker on the second, was then about to play his third shot to the par-5 third when the sirens sounded to indicate an approaching thunderstorm and the threat of lightning in the area.

Seven players were a shot behind Schwartzel on nine under, including Irish pair Padraig Harrington and Peter Lawrie and Edoardo Molinari of Italy.

But one star name missing was that of world No.3 Luke Donald, pictured, who had earlier missed the first halfway cut of his professional career in a regular European Tour event after adding a 73 to his opening 74.

“I’ve got a couple of weeks off to get ready for Augusta [the US Masters] and I’ll obviously be very 
diligent in my preparation,” said Donald, who had got back to level par for the tournament on Friday, but ran up a double-bogey seven on the tenth yesterday in a back nine of 39. “I would have loved to go back home in form, but in golf you just never know. We’ve seen it many times before when people go into tournaments with very little form and win, including majors. So you just have to keep plugging away.

“The greens here are a little slower than what I’m used to and I just didn’t adjust or adapt to them. I just couldn’t read them for the life of me. I’d think it was right to left and it went the other way. I got John [his caddie] to read a few too and we were seeing the same things.

“It’s the first time I’ve missed the cut in a regular European Tour event since I’ve been a pro. So I’m very disappointed for myself and disappointed for the fans who have come out to watch me.”

Alastair Forsyth was the leading Scot on eight under, just three off the leaders, in a tie for tenth place.

His compatriot Scott Jamieson shares 16th place on seven under, while Stephen Gallacher is on one under.