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Bandar Seri Begawan: Unheralded Siddikur of Bangladesh gave himself a shot at a historic victory after taking a two-shot halfway lead at the Brunei Open on Friday.
Siddikur, who is the first Bangladeshi to play on the Asian Tour, posted a four-under-par 67 for his career’s best two-day total of 11-under-par 131 at the majestic Empire Hotel and Country Club.
Overnight leader Thammanoon Srirot of Thailand slipped to tied second place after a 71 for a 133 total alongside Australian Adam Groom, who returned a 68 at the US$300,000 full field Asian Tour tournament.
Sweet-swinging Juvic Pagunsan of the Philippines, Malaysia’s Ben Leong and South African Jbe Kruger are a further stroke back on 134. India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar, last year’s runner-up in Brunei, scored the third hole-in-one of the tournament on the 14th hole after his five iron tee shot trickled into the hole. He closed with a 68 for a 137 total.
Siddikur, who grew up as a ball boy in Dhaka and fashioned his first club with a seven iron head on a metal rod, posted a flawless round with four birdies but was disappointed with his putting.
He revealed that his confidence has soared since securing his first top-10 on the Asian Tour at the Queen’s Cup in Thailand in June. “I’m very happy and excited with my total score as this is the first time I have been 11-under-par after the second round,” said Siddikur, who is hoping to become the first Bangladeshi winner on the Asian Tour.
“I was struggling a bit with my short putts because I found it tough to read the lines. If I had managed to get my putter working, I would have had a better score. Overall it was a good round and I’m looking forward to the weekend,” added the 25-year-old.
Thammanoon, a five-time Asian Tour winner, posted two birdies in the first three holes but could not keep his momentum going before closing with bogeys on the seventh and eighth holes.
He rued a cold putter but remained confident of his chances during the weekend.
“I couldn’t hole any putts out there after my birdie on three. If I can get my putter going tomorrow, I think I will be able to shoot six or seven-under to put myself in contention,” said Thammanoon.
Groom, who started on the back nine, turned in 36 but recovered with birdies on three and six before adding another birdie on his final hole.
“My confidence was down after bogeys on the 17th and 18th holes. I tried to pull my game up after that but was hitting it all over the place. I wouldn’t have kept my score if it wasn’t for my putting,” said Groom, who lost his Asian Tour card last season.
Malaysia’s Leong, a winner on the Asian Tour, endured a double bogey on his second hole but bounced back with an eagle followed by four straight birdies.
“It was a weird start but that double bogey really gave me a kick start. Even after my double bogey, I felt that more good things will come and it showed in the next five holes,” said Leong, winner of the 2008 Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters.
“After finding water, I managed to get an up-and-down for double bogey which was actually really good. It was a crucial putt and it kept my momentum going,” said the 24-year-old.
Leong is hoping to return to his best form. “I have been trying really hard in the last couple of months and but I hope something good will happen here,” added the Malaysian.
A total of 80 players made the cut which was set at even-par 71.

Asian Tour 

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