Siddikur leads Els in Macau
BY Asian Tour | 18 Oct 2013
Macau, October 18: South African Ernie Els charged into contention with a brilliant six-under-par 65 to trail halfway leader Siddikur of Bangladesh by one shot at the US$800,000 Venetian Macau Open on Friday.
The four-time Major champion, who is also an Asian Tour honorary member and international ambassador, sank nine birdies against three bogeys at the Macau Golf and Country Club for a two-day total of six-under-par 136.
Siddikur was equally impressive in his round of 66 which included three birdies over his closing four holes as he edged ahead of the chasing pack with his 135 total as he continued to search for a second Asian Tour victory.
The in-form Baek Seuk-hyun, who has four top-10s in his last five starts, fired a 65 to tie Els while Filipino Elmer Salvador and Ben Campbell of New Zealand will also enter the weekend rounds in tied second place after a 66 and 68 respectively.
For Campbell, who has been struggling all year, this is a tremendous opportunity. The former top amateur has battled injury and a lack of a place to play in his career to date but his effort this week is a better indication of what he is capable of.
Els showed why he is nicknamed “The Big Easy” as he effortlessly moved up the leaderboard but he was disappointed to miss a two-foot birdie chance at the last hole which would have tied Siddikur for the lead.
“The one little putt I missed at the last will sting a little bit. I was looking at the board and it would have been perfect if I could have been seven under to be in the last group. But it’s fine. I played really nice. I actually made some good putts and hit the ball nicely,” said Els.
“The wind was still up a bit. But this evening, it died down and it was a pleasure being out there. It was fun. I think I’ve found my lines off the tees and the greens as well. Not too comfortable with the short putts, that’s the only thing. That’s why I missed the last one.”
After dropping a shot on his opening hole, Els, who celebrated his 44th birthday on Thursday, launched his charge with four birdies before the turn. He looked to be in cruise control with five more birdies against two bogeys coming home.
“When I got here on Wednesday evening, I would have taken where I am right now after two rounds. I’m one shot behind and I’m in the thick of it. I’ve been here for two days and I feel my body is getting in the time zone. My rhythm is good. I brought my trainer over and he’s been stretching (me) and everything we can do to get my body going. So it’s actually feeling good,” said Els.
Siddikur, the first Bangladeshi to win on the Asian Tour in 2010, produced a strong finish to snatch the halfway lead in the Venetian Macau Open as he eyed a dream showdown with his idol, Els.
“It was a great round. I felt good. My ball striking was perfect, especially my putting as it all went in,” said Siddikur, who took only 25 putts and is currently 10th on the Order of Merit. “This is a placing course which I like very much. I finished third here last year and I had good thoughts coming back. I’m hitting it good. I’m in good shape.”
He hopes to get a chance to tee up alongside Els. “Ernie is my idol. I’ve been waiting for a long time to play with him. Last few years, I’ve missed by a few groups playing with him so hopefully this week,” he said.
The burly Baek continued to ride on his rich vein of form as he charged up the leaderboard with a seven-birdie round which included three chip-ins. “It’s my best (score) on this course. I got really lucky on so many holes. I chipped in on three holes and made some long putts, 20 feet or so. Today, my putting and chipping was very good,” said the 23-year-old, who is fifth on the Order of Merit.
The Korean is determined to land his first Asian Tour victory after contending on numerous occasions but reckons he has put too much pressure on himself to enjoy a career breakthrough.
“Every time, I’m getting nearer. I’m trying my best. I’m just going to enjoy my game and play my game. Every time I try to go for it, I didn’t do it. This time, I just want to enjoy my game,” said Baek.
Filipino Salvador credited his straight driving play for pushing up him the leaderboard. “I drove the ball good which is important on this golf course. I think I only missed three fairways. Had a fair share of good putts that went in, the one on two was probably the longest from 25 feet. This is a very difficult golf course and you can’t make big mistakes. My swing feels good this week, so we’ll see how it holds up.
Scott Hend produced the best round of the day, a 64, to move within three of the lead.
Scores after round 2 of the Venetian Macau Open 2013 being played at the par 71, 6606 Yards Macau GCC course (a- denotes amateur):
135 – SIDDIKUR (BAN) 69-66.
136 – BAEK Seuk-hyun (KOR) 71-65, Elmer SALVADOR (PHI) 70-66, Ben CAMPBELL (NZL) 68-68, Ernie ELS (RSA) 71-65.
137 – Jay BAYRON (PHI) 70-67, Scott BARR (AUS) 68-69, Daisuke KATAOKA (JPN) 71-66.
138 – Scott HEND (AUS) 74-64.
139 – Antonio LASCUNA (PHI) 71-68, Kalle SAMOOJA (FIN) 68-71, Adam GROOM (AUS) 70-69, Thammanoon SRIROJ (THA) 71-68, Stephen LEWTON (ENG) 72-67.
140 – Thongchai JAIDEE (THA) 73-67, Jazz JANEWATTANANOND (THA) 69-71, HU Mu (CHN) 73-67, Chawalit PLAPHOL (THA) 70-70, Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 69-71, LU Wen-teh (TPE) 70-70, Jesper KENNEGARD (SWE) 73-67, Simon GRIFFITHS (ENG) 70-70, Jason KNUTZON (USA) 69-71, Rahil GANGJEE (IND) 73-67.
141 – Arjun ATWAL (IND) 72-69, Jaakko MAKITALO (FIN) 73-68, Joonas GRANBERG (FIN) 73-68, Mithun PERERA (SRI) 71-70, Sujjan SINGH (IND) 70-71, Niall TURNER (IRL) 73-68, HUNG Chien-yao (TPE) 70-71, LU Wei-chih (TPE) 70-71, Marcus BOTH (AUS) 69-72, Anirban LAHIRI (IND) 73-68, Javi COLOMO (ESP) 75-66.