(Reuters) - Pinpoint accuracy helped former U.S. PGA champion Keegan Bradley grab a four-shot lead at the halfway stage of the CIMB Classic in Malaysia on Friday as Phil Mickelson’s swing struggles continued.
Bradley fired seven birdies in his second round of six-under-par 66 to lead the $7 million PGA Tour event on 13-under after overnight leader Ryan Moore failed to match the fireworks of his opening 63 and settled for a level par 72.
Bradley, who won his sole major championship in 2011, said his accuracy needed to continue on the narrow layout if he was to claim a fourth PGA Tour title.
“I’m hitting the ball super straight, it’s hard to remember a time when I have been more dialed in than this last two days,” the American told reporters.
“I’m really in control of my ball and putting my ball really well.
“The guy who keeps hitting fairways this week is the guy who is going to win, so I’m going to keep hitting fairways, be aggressive and try and win this tournament.”
Fellow American Moore mixed three birdies with three bogeys in his level par round to sit second in the 78-man field event, which is co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour.
Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat continued to carry the flag for the local players as he briefly shared the lead on Friday before signing for a 69 and a share of third place on eight-under with American Chris Stroud (69).
The burly Thai, who birdied his opening three holes, is a big fan of the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country, having won the European Tour’s Malaysian Open there in March.
“I thought of that victory so the back nine I didn’t move (up the leaderboard) that much,” Kiradech joked of the distraction.
“I miss a lot of putts because I think too much.”
Putting was not an issue for his playing partner Mickelson, who hailed his work with the short stick for keeping him in red figures after a 70 put him at three-under in a tie 25th at the halfway stage.
The British Open champion, again struggling for swing rhythm, birdied his final two holes after back-to-back bogeys from the 13th had stymied his efforts.
“I don’t have the control of the swing that I’d like. I’m not sure what side I’m going to miss it on. Playing this golf course from the rough, which I did today, is extremely difficult, the 43-year-old lefthander said.
“The rough is tough and you’re fighting for pars the whole day. It was closer today, the rhythm was a little bit better but technically, I’ve got a lot of issues.”
Australian Marc Leishman shot a 65, the best round of the day, to sit tied fifth with Spain’s Sergio Garcia (71) at seven-under. The reduced field meant there was no cut.
Writing by Patrick Johnston