Sentosa, Singapore, January 21: Big-hitting Malaysian Gavin Green birdied his final hole on Saturday morning to move onto the shoulder of leader Seungsu Han at the halfway mark of the SMBC Singapore Open.
Green carded a three-under 68 for a total of eight-under-par 134, a stroke behind Korean-born American Han who completed his round on Friday at Sentosa Golf Club.
Three-time winner Adam Scott of Australia, who made the early running on Friday watched by huge galleries, is a further shot adrift in third spot. The world number seven carded a 67 in round two.
Angelo Que of the Philippines and new dad Quincy Quek of Singapore share fourth place after shooting 69 and 68 respectively on Friday. Quek, who is giving credence to the so-called “nappy factor” in sport, can expect big crowds to follow him in the third round.
Before darkness halted play on Friday, the 23-year-old Green had put together a steady round with three birdies and a sole bogey at the 14th. His birdie at the par-five 18th provided a good early morning tonic in his second appearance at the iconic event having missed the cut last year.
Green graduated to the Asian Tour from the feeder Asian Development Tour, winning twice and finishing second on the Order of Merit last year, and he has showcased his huge talent this week.
The unheralded Han surprised even himself by topping the leaderboard as he has played sparingly since the season finished on the Japan Tour where the 30-year-old chalked up five top-10 finishes.
“It obviously feels good. I am a bit surprised because I took some time off in December after my season last year so I wasn’t really expecting anything coming here. I just want to play and see where it gets me. It feels good to be playing well,” said Han, who had an impressive record in junior golf.
“I played the web.com tour right after college in 2009 and I came back to play in Asia. I played in Japan, China, Canada and I was all over the place. I took a few years off and went back to play in Japan again.”
Ernie Els of South Africa, twice a runner-up at the Singapore Open, missed the cut of +1 by a single shot after adding a level-par 71 to his opening 73 on Friday.
Japan Tour number one Yuta Ikeda will also sit out the weekend. He failed to hit the heights of late 2016, when he won twice and finished runner-up six times, and carded rounds of 74-70.
The 51st edition of the SMBC Singapore Open is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and Japan Golf Tour Organisation.