TOKYO (Reuters) - Unheralded Australian Adam Bland grabbed the halfway lead at the Asia-Pacific Open Golf Championship after his cautious approach paid off at the Ohtone Country Club on Friday.
The 32-year-old from Adelaide carded a three-under-par 68 for a two-day total of five-under 137 at the $1.5 million event to stay one shot ahead of Thailand's Prayad Marksaeng (69) and Korea's S.K. Ho (70).
"This is my first year out in Japan and I’m really enjoying myself," said Bland who, debuted on the Japan Golf Tour through the qualifying school in December last year.
"I'm definitely in a good position to chase my first win here and I’m really looking forward to the weekend rounds. It should be good," added Bland, whose tied-fourth finish in Nagoya in April remains his best result on the Japan Golf Tour so far.
"It’s a tough golf course and you’ll be lucky if you can get to the greens if you miss the fairways. Five-under is good and hopefully I can keep it going."
Eight-time Asian Tour winner Prayad grabbed the morning clubhouse lead with a strong 69, displaying his liking for the country where he has won four times.
"The secret to my success is the Onsen here," the 48-year-old said, referring to the therapeutic effects of the Japanese hot springs.
"I feel revitalized after every visit. That’s why I’ve a good track record in Japan."
Bland's compatriot and overnight leader Cameron Smith carded three-over 74 to slip three shots off lead.
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty; editing by Justin Palmer