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Ben extends lead
Published on: Friday, August 10, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: Ben Leong produced a solid three-under-par 69 to extend his lead by three shots at the halfway stage at the PGM Sabah Championship held at the Sabah Golf and Country Club here on Thursday.

The 32-year-old Sabahan leads on a six-under-par 138 total over Japan's Shinichi Mizuno who posted a 70 at the RM225,000 Asian Development Tour (ADT) event.

American Jeremy Wendelken (70) and Singapore's Johnson Poh (68) shared third-place while Thailand's Varanyu Rattanaphiboonkij (70), Finland's Janne Kaske (70) and American Sam Gillis (71) were tied in fifth place at the Sabah Golf and Country Club.

Leong fired birdies on holes one and four before dropping a shot on the ninth hole after making a wrong club selection. He recovered quickly on the 10th hole after making a fantastic approach shot into the wind before holing a 12-foot birdie putt. He birdied the last hole to hold on to his lead.

"It was a tough and long day. I'm just glad to finally be done. I made putts and made some good ones to stay up there, like the 15-footer on my first hole and the 12-footer on the 10th hole to bounce back.

"I used the wrong club off the tee on hole nine and was blocked by a tree so I had to hit a low shot out into the fairway. I then had a bad angle on the third shot but I managed to hit it to 15-feet but I missed my putt to save par," said Leong.

Leong, the 2017 PGM Northport Glenmarie champion, will stay patient as he continues his search for a second ADT title.

"My alignment feels slightly better now and I am slowly building on this momentum.

I'll be focusing on my process and staying patient the next two rounds," added Leong.

Mizuno, currently 14th on the Order of Merit, was rewarded for his aggressive approach where he only missed four greens in his bogey-free round.

"I made a lot of fairways and greens today which was key. We have been pretty lucky the past two weeks to be playing on good greens and this week was no different. It's playing a little wet which makes it easier to hit into.

"I started on the 10th hole and was just making pars and couldn't get my putts to drop.

Then I finally made a 15-footer on the sixth hole and chipped in from off the fringe on the seventh," added Mizuno.

The halfway cut was set at eight-over-par 152 with 52 players advancing into the final two rounds.

The PGM Sabah Championship is the 12th leg on the ADT's 2018 schedule.

All ADT events are afforded Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) status.

The winner of each tournament receives a minimum of six OWGR points while the top-six players and ties earn points on a sliding scale.

The leading seven players on the ADT Order of Merit at the end of the season will earn playing rights on the premier Asian Tour for the 2019 season.

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