KUALA LUMPUR: Winning is addictive.
Nathan Holman captured his first title in his native Australia in early December and it has whetted his appetite for more – especially away from home.
If he continues to play like he has done in the first two rounds of the Maybank Championship Malaysia at the Royal Selangor Golf Club (RSGC), he won’t have to wait long to get his fix.
The 24-year-old overnight leader has opened up a two-shot lead over nearest rival Richard Bland of England at the halfway stage of the inaugural US$3mil (RM12.64mil) event after firing a six-under 65 to reach 13-under 129 on Friday.
“After winning (the Australian PGA Championship) at home, my aim was to win a tournament overseas,” said world No. 176 Holman.
“So, it’s great to have that chance here.
“Looking ahead, getting into the top 100 in the world ranking is also a realistic aim.”
Filipino rising star Miguel Tabuena, South Korean youngster Lee Soo-min, Spain’s Jorge Campillo and world No. 13 Danny Willett of England share third spot on 134 – five shots behind Holman.
Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand and Australian Marcus Fraser were a further shot back after shooting identical 69s in the tournament co-sanctioned by the Asian and European Tour.
Teeing off in the afternoon, Holman was temporarily knocked off the top of the leaderboard by clubhouse joint-leaders – Willett, Campillo, Soo-min and Tabuena – who all eventually finished the day five shots off the pace.
Holman hardly looked back after making his first pair of birdies on the third and fourth holes. He went on to collect five more birdies – including three consecutive gains from the 15th.
The Aussie, however, bogeyed the 14th for his first blemish of the tournament.
“Today was just as good as yesterday,” Holman explained.
“When I saw I was three shots clear after the turn, there were a few nerves, but I handed myself really well.
“I’d like to be even further ahead if I could, but I’ll settle for two today.”
The 43-year-old Bland, a seasoned campaigner who has yet to win on the European Tour, matched Holman’s 65 to claim the second spot on 131.
“I’m very pleased, obviously,” said Bland, who had six birdies to keep his scorecard bogey-free after 36 holes.
“To go a round here without dropping a shot in two days takes some doing. Hopefully, I can continue the run going over the weekend.”
Two-time Malaysian Open winner Thongchai Jaidee and Australia’s Marcus Fraser, were joint seventh on seven-under after carding identical 69s.
Major winner and 2012 Malaysian Open champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa struggled to a 70 to trail Holman by eight shots in joint 12th spot.
Former world No. 1 Martin Kaymer, Thailand’s three-time European Tour winner Kiradech Aphibarnrat and British Masters winner Matthew Fitzpatrick have all missed the cut.