KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Spaniard Alejandro Canizares picked up three shots in his last four holes to card a spot-free seven-under-par 65 and surge into a tie for the lead with champion Lee Westwood at the halfway stage of the Malaysian Open on Friday.
Former world number one Westwood, tied for the lead overnight with Ryder Cup team mate Graeme McDowell, produced a 67 in his second round in the $3 million event at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club that is co-sanctioned by the European and Asian tours.
The Englishman, who also won the event in 1997, mixed six birdies with a lone bogey in his second round to open up a three-shot lead at one point, but a strong finish from Canizares for the lowest score this week left him equal on 11-under.
”I played nicely again,“ Westwood said. ”It was pretty solid again and I probably only hit one poor shot all day, from the middle of the fairway on the fifth hole - I was going in with a five iron and blocked it right into the water.
”Other than that it was very good, and I felt very comfortable out there. I hit a lot of fairways and some good iron shots and made some nice putts.
“It was great to birdie two of the last three and go from one in front to three in front.”
The duo were three strokes ahead of Austrian Bernd Wiesberger (66) in third on eight-under, with England’s Paul Waring (68) and Ireland’s Peter Lawrie (66) a stroke further back in fourth.
Canizares came to Malaysia riding some good form having already finished 12th in Abu Dhabi and eighth in Qatar this year, and he will hope to finish even higher this week.
”It was a lot of fun and I played really well,“ the 32-year-old said. ”I wasn’t so good off the tee today, but I putted really well.
”I made some great up-and-downs when I missed a shot, and I‘m very happy overall. I can’t wait for the weekend - it will be a lot of fun.
“It’s a great position to be in and I couldn’t ask for any better. Hopefully I can keep it going.”
McDowell’s round was spoiled by a bogey and a double-bogey on the 11th and 12th holes and he finished on 73, for a two-day total of five-under and eighth place.
Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Stephen Wood