Rory McIlroy and Alvaro Quiros retain share of lead in Hong Kong
Northern Irishman joint leader alongside Alvaro Quiros on seven under par after the second day of the Hong Kong Open
Rory McIlroy and Alvaro Quiros are tied for the lead going into the weekend after returning a pair of 69s at the Hong Kong Open.
The duo maintained their symmetrical scoring, shooting matching rounds of one under par to add to the six under par 64s they recorded on Thursday.
It was a different story on Friday, with the Northern Irishman and Spaniard unable to protect their bogey-free starts to the tournament.
Both players professed disappointment at their halfway totals, insisting that nine or 10 under par was well within reach after 36 holes.
McIlroy was three under for the day and nine under for the tournament after 15 holes, but some wayward driving led to bogeys on 16 and 18.
“It wasn’t the way I wanted to finish”, he said, citing “a few loose shots coming in” as the main reason for his failure to claim the outright lead – “something I’ll have to try and eliminate if I want to lead going into Sunday.” He must play well tomorrow to give himself the best possible chance of securing the top-two finish he needs to keep the Race to Dubai alive.
Quiros was similarly disappointed with his 69. “Unfortunately, I didn’t play as well as yesterday,” said the man from Cadiz. Taking three putts at the first and second, his 10th and 11th, and an untimely bogey at his last hole of the day nullified some of the good work he had done to record a three under 32 on his front nine.
Panupat Pittayarat and Scotland’s Richie Ramsay are in a share for third. Ramsay continued his impressive season with a four under par 66, one shot more than the little known man from Thailand, who confessed that his aim for the week was “to make the cut”.
Veteran Spaniard Miguel Ãngel JimÃ©nez shot a level par round of 70 to stay in a share of fifth place. He is joined on five under par by Thailand’s Pariya Junhasavasdikul, and Danny Lee of New Zealand, who caused controversy this week by electing to play in Hong Kong instead of his country’s national open. His decision appears to have been vindicated.
Elsewhere, the other overnight leader, David Horsey, shot a two over par 72 to fall back into a tie for eighth. Defending champion Ian Poulter recorded a 68, which included an eagle and three birdies, while fellow Englishman Justin Rose missed the cut by one shot.
Padraig Harrington did nothing to enhance his chances of making an appearance at the Dubai World Championship. His second round 71 leaves him with work to do to break into the top 60 in the Race to Dubai standings and qualify for the season finale next week.
Gareth Maybin (currently 120th in Race to Dubai standings), who put himself in great position to keep his card for next season with an opening four under 66, felt the pressure and lapsed to a second round 73, despite a hole in one at the par-three fourth. His chances of moving into the top 118 are still very much alive, however, along with South African Keith Horne (currently 119th), who held his nerve to make the cut (+2) with one shot to spare.
Others weren’t so fortunate, and will be heading to European Tour Q-School, including former winners on tour Nick Dougherty and Oliver Wilson.
Meanwhile, over in South Africa at the Nedbank Golf Challenge, McIlroy’s close friend and fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell surged into the lead with a five under par second round 67 in Sun City. He is seven under par at the halfway stage.
McDowell made a lovely birdie three at the eighteenth to take a one shot lead, with Englishman Lee Westwood one of four players breathing down his neck on six under par.
McDowell started the day two shots behind, but was four under for his round after birdies at 1, 9, 10 and 11, before rolling in a twenty-footer on the final green.
Westwood fired a solid two under 70 to share second with former PGA champion Martin Kaymer, Alabaman Jason Dufner, and Swede Robert Karlsson, who birdied the difficult 17th en route to a second successive three under par 69.
The two surprises of the day were Luke Donald and Charl Schwartzel. The world No1 fell further behind the lead with a level par round of 72, while the home favourite slumped to a two over 74. They are both in a tie for ninth on two under par. Encouragingly, however, they are only five shots off the lead, and a good performance on ‘moving day’ could see either player in contention come Sunday.
The same can be said for Darren Clarke, who halted his post Open Championship slump with a fine 69 to enter the weekend just six behind compatriot McDowell. Propping up the field is Italian Francesco Molinari, who had the worst round of the tournament (77) to sit six shots behind his nearest competitor after two rounds.