The 32-year-old from Davao fired a one-over-par 71 over Sutera Harbour Golf & Country Club’s demanding championship course to lead by two strokes from compatriot Anthony Fernando and Malaysia’s Nicholas Fung and S. Sivachandran.
Fung, Sabah’s rising young star, and Sivachandran both carded 68s while Fernando returned a 70 which included a costly double bogey on the 18th.
Wisut Artjanawat is two strokes further back. The Thai golfer, who won last month’s Palembang Musi Championship, fired a 68.
Bayron leads the US$60,000 tournament on four-under-par 136 and heads into the weekend in a familiar position in contention.
He has recorded third, fifth and sixth placed finishes on the ASEAN PGA Tour this year and is due a victory.
“We started on the back nine today which I liked because that’s the hard nine. It’s best to play that first when you have most of your energy,” said Bayron, who made three birdies and four bogeys
“As long as I keep putting myself into position to win I am happy. That’s all I can ask for. The win will come if I keep performing at this level,” added Bayron.
He has come close to winning many times most notably when he finished second in the opening three events last season. One of those events, the Kariza Indonesia Championship, he lost in a sudden-death play-off while in the Mercedes-Benz Masters Philippines he led after every round before slipping back into second on the final day.
The Filipino first appeared on the ASEAN PGA Tour in 2007 when he finished as the leading amateur in the Mercedes-Benz Masters Vietnam. He turned professional the following year and has been one of the most consistent performers on the ASEAN PGA Tour.
Fung won the Sabah Classic on the local Malaysian circuit this year and will no doubt be a threat at the weekend.
He played his second nine in two under to move onto the shoulder of the leader.
“That was a much better round today and I am right in the thick of things where I want to be. It will be a great battle at the weekend because if you look at the leaderboard there are a lot of top players in contention,” said Fung.
The Malaysian beat compatriot Danny Chia by two shots in Sabah Classic and then triumphed by nine shots in another domestic tour event in Sarawak.
The 21 year old, who grew up playing golf at Sabah Golf & Country Club, has won once before on the ASEAN PGA Tour in last year’ Mercedes-Benz Masters Vietnam.
Indonesia’s leading golfer Rory Hie carded a second successive 71 and six behind Bayron.
The Sabah Masters is the sixth event on this year’s ASEAN PGA Tour. The tournament has not been played since 1999 when American Robert Huxtable took the title when it was also played at Sutera Harbour.
Leading second round scores:
136 – Jay Bayron (PHI) 65 71
138 – Nicholas Fung (MAS) 70 68, S. Sivachandran (MAS) 70 68,
Anthony Fernando (PHI) 68 70
140 – Wisut Artjanawat (THA) 72 68
141 – Airil Rizman (MAS) 70 71, Tanatchan Puaktes (THA) 68 73
142 – Marlon Dizon (PHI) 69 73, Rory Hie (INA) 71 71
144 – Apichart Papitak (THA) 70 74
145 – Dengshan Koh (SIN) 72 73
146 – Pravee Visalkit (THA) 73 73, Somsak Khaoprathum (THA) 74 72, Carl Santos-Ocampo (PHI) 73 73, Lim Eng Seng (MAS) 72 74, Supravee Phatam (THA) 72 74, Mohd Rashid Ismail (MAS) 74 72