Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai and Italian Nino Bertasio fired impressive rounds of seven-under-par 65 to sit at the top of a congested leaderboard on day two of the Maybank Championship on Friday, as Darren Clarke rallied to squeeze under the cut line.
Englishman Lee Westwood, a two-time winner in Malaysia, took the charge in the morning with a spectacular 62 that got him to 10-under overall and the clubhouse lead alongside Scot Marc Warren and Japan's Yuta Ikeda.
It looked set that the trio would share the lead heading into the weekend at Saujana Golf and Country Club but Khongwatmai went on to open up a one-shot advantage on the back of some brilliant iron play on the back-nine.
The 18-year-old made a steady start with birdies on the fifth and sixth but then came to life after the turn, displaying his enormous potential to collect five consecutive birdies from the 11th.
"I'm very happy with my score," Khongwatmai said. "My plan is to shoot under par every day and play against the course.
"I don't want to think ahead or compare my score to another player. It is only two rounds so the tournament is not over yet. I want to focus day by day and hole by hole."
81 players made the cut (-4) in Malaysia.— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) February 2, 2018
That's the largest amount in a 156-man field since the 2017 BMW International Open (85). pic.twitter.com/1bGtfQGE9e
Clarke fired a four-under 68 to make the weekend after yesterday's up-and-down 72. That left him four-under overall.
Bertasio grabbed a share of the lead from the last group of the day, making eight birdies to reach 11-under overall.
England's Chris Paisley, who had held a one-shot lead at the end of the opening round, made sure he built on the strong start with a 69 to join the group in the second spot.
Heading into the weekend, 22 players were within three shots of the lead, with the cut-line sitting just seven shots behind the leaders.