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MURAKAMI AND RAI SHARE HALFWAY LEAD AT IMPIAN

Kajang, Selangor, Malaysia: Filipino Artemio Murakami produced some golf magic to tie India’s Himmat Rai for the halfway lead at the PGM-ADT-CCM Impian Classic on Friday.

Murakami, who is of Filipino-Japanese parentage, carded a five-under-par 67 at the Impian Golf and Country Club while overnight pacesetter Rai shot a 68 in the RM200,000 (approximately US$67,000) Asian Development Tour event.

They jointly lead on 12-under-par 132 from American duo Will Yanagisawa, using a borrowed putter this week, and rookie Jonathan Moore who lie two shots back. Yanagisawa signed for a 67 while Moore, who fired an eagle on the 17th hole, was one better with a 66.

Danny Chia was Malaysia’s best performer at the halfway stage after firing a second straight 69 for fifth place on 138 despite lamenting poor iron play.

Murakami, who opened his campaign with a sizzling 65 on Thursday, fired six birdies against a lone bogey to surge to the top of the leaderboard. The 27-year-old is using the Impian Classic as a warm up for his defence of the Asian Tour’s ICTSI Philippine Open next week but has shown the kind of winning form that led him to victory at the Iskandar Johor Open in 2008.

“My putting was solid and I’m still hitting the ball nicely. My chipping didn’t quite work as I didn’t get up and down on the par five third hole (for birdie) and then I bogeyed my last (the ninth) after chunking my approach,” said Murakami.

“My aim is still next week, not this week. But winning a golf tournament is a great achievement for anybody. I’m looking forward to the weekend. I’m hitting it so good and the putts are going in,” added the Filipino, who holed 20 foot birdie putts on the fourth and sixth holes.

Rai was delighted to follow up his opening 64 with a 68. “It’s definitely hard to get the same level of adrenaline going more than anything (after a 64). But once you settle in, there’s no reason why you can’t keep playing well. I’ve been keeping the ball in play and giving myself good looks at birdies,” said the 23-year-old Indian, who traded six birdies against two dropped shots.

“I’ve played a few rounds with Artemio on Tour previously, even during our amateur days. He’s got a solid game and it should be fun playing with him.”

Thai-based Yanagisawa used his borrowed club to good effect as he moved into contention. This week, he is staying with Malaysian-based Andrew Argus where he picked up a putter from the Australian’s home.

“It kind of convenient staying with Andrew and I picked up a putter and just felt good with it,” said Yanagisawa, who was teammates with Tiger Woods at Stanford College.

Malaysia’s leading player Chia struggled with his iron play as he shot six birdies against three bogeys. “I’m driving it well but I’m somehow a bit hesitant with the irons as I’m not releasing the club properly. It could be due to my old shoulder injury,” said Chia.

Malaysian Solhairy Shariff shot the tournament’s first hole-in-one on the second hole en route to a 73. The halfway cut was set at 146 with 50 players, including 24 Malaysians, progressing into the weekend rounds.

The Impian Classic, the third leg of this season’s Asian Development Tour, is organised by the Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Tour.

Leading second round scores

132: Artemio Murakami (Phi) 65-67, Himmat Rai (Ind) 64-68

134: Will Yanagisawa (US) 67-67, Jonathan Moore (US) 68-66

138: Danny Chia (Mas) 69-69

139: Zaw Moe (Myn) 71-68, Hanafiah Jamil (Mas) 68-71, T.J. Kim (Kor) 73-66, R, Nachimuthu (Mas) 70-69, Kemarol Baharin (Mas) 70-69

140: Hsu Chia-jen (Tpe) 69-71, Chang Tse-peng (Tpe) 66-74, Khor Kheng Hwai (Mas) 70-70

141: Akhmal Tarmizee (Mas) 73-68, M. Sasidaran (Mas) 66-75, Ben Leong (Mas) 69-72.

Photo - Asian Tour

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