Dylan Frittelli will once again carry the South African hope after moving within two of the lead at the Maybank Championship in Malaysia, writes WADE PRETORIUS.
The two-time European Tour winner began this week as the fifth-ranked player in the field and looks set to make good on his pre-tournament status after two great days in the hot, humid conditions at Saujana Golf and Country Club.
If Thursday’s opening 69 was steady then Frittelli moved into fifth gear on Friday as he moved up 23 places to T7 following his 66. He stormed out of the blocks posting red numbers on the 1st, 3rd, 5th and 6th to lay down a marker. Three pars followed before further gains at 11th and 13th helped him continue his charge.
Frittelli is two behind Phachara Khongwatmai and Nino Bertasio, who both fired 65s with a Lee Westwood, Marc Warren, Yuta Ikeda and Chris Paisley one behind.
‘I was really happy to get out to a fast start and see those putts drop nice and early,’ he told Compleat Golfer. ‘I then slowed down a bit on the back nine with the greens not as true as they might’ve been earlier on, you know dealing with all the traffic.’
A costly three putt on the par 3 16th was the only lowlight as he responded by finishing his round with a birdie on the 18th for the second straight day to join a group of six at -9 at the halfway mark.
‘I battled hard, especially with that bogey on 16, and it was great to finish off on a high and give me that added momentum going into the weekend. Obviously, it’s very hot out here so I’ll be saving as much energy as I can, trying to keep a bit of a low profile.
‘I am happy with my game and [I’m] well-placed going into the weekend. I can’t wait to get out there and challenge for another win on Sunday.’
Frittelli has clearly found his best game, which included 13 fairways in regulation and 17 greens in regulation, since his breakthrough win in Austria as he looks to cement his place inside the world’s top 50 this weekend – he is well-placed to do just that after his work today.
Only one other South African, Keith Horne, will be around this weekend with Haydn Porteous, Brandon Stone, Dean Burmester (who had made the cut in his nine previous starts), Jbe Kruger and Shaun Norris all heading home.
Horne made three birdies in a row on the back nine before two immediate drops saw him slide down the leaderboard, ultimately finishing in a share of 51st place at -5.
Photo: Getty Images