Illness slows Willett as Holman takes charge

Danny Willett of Britain takes off his glove after hitting a shot during day two of the Maybank Championship golf tournament in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

Danny Willett of Britain takes off his glove after hitting a shot during day two of the Maybank Championship golf tournament in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

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Australia’s Nathan Holman continued his brilliant start to the 2016 season to claim the halfway lead in the inaugural Maybank Championship Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur.

Holman had played just 15 European Tour events coming into the new campaign but claimed a maiden win at the Australian PGA Championship in December.

Danny Willett hits a shot during day two of the Maybank Championship golf tournament in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

Danny Willett hits a shot during day two of the Maybank Championship golf tournament in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

And the 24-year-old from Melbourne added a 65 to his opening 64 to reach 13 under par, two shots ahead of England’s Richard Bland.

“I think today’s round was just as good,” said the world number 176, who responded to dropping his first shot of the week on the 14th with a hat-trick of birdies.

“In the afternoon the conditions were a little bit harder and seeing your name up the top of that leaderboard can bring on some nerves but it was nice to be able to play really well and it was good fun to finish with a few birdies. I’ve been working hard on the putting for two weeks now, just on the alignment, and as soon as that got good it was really nice to start seeing the ball roll and holing some putts.”

Bland, who is still seeking a first European Tour title in his 378th event, has yet to drop a shot after adding a flawless 65 to his opening 66.

“I’m very pleased obviously,” the 43-year-old said. “To go round here without dropping a shot in two days takes some doing. Hopefully I can continue the run going over the weekend.”

Sheffield’s Danny Willett, Korea’s Soomin Lee, Spain’s Jorge Campillo and Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines share third place on eight under par, with Willett revealing he was suffering from the flu in pursuit of back-to-back wins following his victory in the Dubai Desert Classic a fortnight ago.

“I’m struggling a bit with my body,” the world No 13 said after a 69. “My energy levels collapsed on the back nine and I started making a few silly mistakes.

“But the flags were also quite tricky today and the wind’s picking up a bit, so I can’t see the scoring being too ridiculous. And I would’ve taken eight under after two rounds.

“I love the design of the course. You can still be aggressive and take the hole on if you want, but if you hit it in the rough you lose all control for your second shot. So it really makes you think.”

A 72 yesterday saw Sheffield’s Matt Fitzpatrick miss the cut by a single shot.

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