Schwartzel storms ahead in Malaysia

Charl Schwartzel continued to dominate the Maybank Malaysian Open reaching a leading nine-under-par total before thunderstorms forced a delay to the second round.

“Overall it was a good day, and it’s hard to keep your concentration with the heat we had to play in. I’ll take 68 for today, and after getting off to such a good start yesterday I’m feeling confident,” he said.

The 2011 Masters champion backed up a Thursday 67 with a Friday 68, setting the pace on nine-under. He was caught by China’s Ashun Wu, but Schwartzel’s experience has been built over 10 international victories, which makes the South African the biggest threat in the field.

“The low scores are out there, and you need to keep yourself in it. You’ve got to put yourself in there from the start,” said Schwartzel.

And the 28-year-old has been producing some of the hottest golf of his career. At the end of 2012 he beat Bubba Watson by an 11-stroke margin at the Thailand Golf Championship before romping to 24-under-par at the Alfred Dunhill Championship, where he finished 12 shots clear of runner-up Kristoffer Broberg.

It was no surprise that the quiet man from Maccauvlei had chalked up 10 birdies and an eagle at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club by the time the Malaysian Open reached its halfway mark.

“It’s always nice if you have the chance to pull away, but there is a long way to go, so I’ll keep swinging it and play my best. You’ve got to toughen up and get through it,” he said.

Sunshine Tour veteran Adilson da Silva was yet to tee off, but had set the foundation for his tournament with a first-round 68. The top-ranked Brazilian made just one drop during the first day, and if he keeps the bogeys away will post another good number on Friday.

Also yet to start the second round was Thomas Aiken. Fresh off his Avantha Masters win Aiken carded a decent 71 during the first round, and was matched by the 2012 Avantha Masters champion Jbe Kruger.

Defending champion Louis Oosthuizen is not in the field this week, but there is surely no player he’d prefer to take the title from him than his good friend Charl Schwartzel.

The way Schwartzel has played the last two rounds make that feat a very real possibility.

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