South African Jbe Kruger came charging back with two birdies in late windy afternoon to shoot a seven-under 65 and force a three-way tie for the lead with Taiwanese Hung Chien-yao and Lee Chieh-po in a crowded leaderboard halfway through the $1 million Resorts World Manila Masters at the Manila Southwoods in Carmona, Cavite on Friday.
Kruger came out unruffled by the wind that blew from all over, all day yesterday, gunning down five birdies in one of the late flights then hit three more at the back, including the last two to negate a lone bogey mishap on No. 16 and post the tournament-best score in another day of torrid scoring.
He pooled a 10-under 134, the same output put in by early starters Hung, who logged a bogey-free 67, and Lee, who fired an eagle-spiked 66 as the men of the tour sustained their assault on the Masters layout with 52 breaking par, 12 more than in the first round.
Filipino Rufino Bayron also rallied with three birdies at the back and shot a 66, taking the cudgels for the hosts at 135 in a tie with opening day leader Nicholas Fung of Malaysia, who carded a 69, even as Miguel Tabuena made his move with two eagles for a 68 and a 138, four strokes off the pace.
Japan’s Akinori Tan, Thai Tirawat Kaewsiribandit and Paul Peterson of the US all turned in 67s for joint sixth at 136 while Indian Rahil Gangjee and Thai Arnond Vongvanij fired identical 66s, Masahiro Kawamura and Korean Jeunghun Wang shot similar 69s and England’s Steve Lewton and local ace Jhonnel Ababa both logged 68s to join Tabuena at 10th place heading to the weekend play of the country’s richest championship hosed by the Manila Southwoods.
“I wasn’t thinking about leading actually. Maybe that’s why I could play with no pressure out there,” said Hung.
Lee, 21, gunned down an eagle on the par-5 No. 4 and birdies on Nos. 5, 7, 10, 11 and 18 against a lone bogey on No. 12.
Late in the day, Kruger sizzled with eight birdies, including five in the first seven holes, and a tap-in feat on the 18th.
Tabuena, who wavered at the finish and settled for a 70 Thursday, put on a sizzling windup this time, birdying all par-5s and closing out with four birdies in the last six holes at the front for a 31-37.
But it was his two eagles that keyed his fightback from a three-over card start at the back, putting from 20 feet off the fringe on the par-5 15th off a 3-wood second shot from 255 yards out. He dropped a shot on the next but birdied the second par-5 on the 18th before his wedge shot from 87 yards on the par-4 No. 1 landed two feet past the cup and spun back.
Tabuena also bogeyed No.2 but birdied Nos. 4, 5, 7 and 8 to get back into the thick of things.
His 36-hole total of 138 kept him four strokes off Hung at joint eighth but the local circuit’s Order of Merit champion exuded confidence after putting up a solid round despite adverse conditions.
Tony Lascuna shot a 69 to move to 139 with seven others while Mars Pucay stood a stroke farther back at 140 after a 68 while pre-tournament favorite Angelo Que carded a second 71 and lay too far behind at 142.