Johnson surges to the front

European Tour

Dustin Johnson carded a nine-under par 63 to claim a five-shot lead after the second round of the HSBC Champions event.

Starting the second round four shots behind overnight leader Rory McIlroy, he birdied six of his first seven holes at the Sheshan International course to reach the halfway stage at 12-under par.

McIlroy reached 10-under at the turn, but struggled on the back nine and fell back to seven-under with a round of 72.

Alongside the Ulsterman in a tie for second place are Weekley and Bubba Watson, who carded a 67 and 69 respectively.

“I just play my game and I play pretty aggressive. That’s my game, so tomorrow I’m going to go out and try to do the same thing I did today,” Johnson told the European Tour’s official website after his record-equaling round.

“I didn’t play really aggressive today, I just took what the golf course gave me and just tried to hit quality golf shots to give myself looks at birdies.”

McIlroy was near his brilliant best in the opening round, carding a 65, but the world number six showed the inconsistency that’s plagued him throughout the year during the second round.

“Obviously played nicely the front nine and then started to hit a lot of sloppy shots on the back,” McIlroy admitted.

“I missed the last six greens in a row; missed seven greens on the back nine, so a bit of work needed on the range this afternoon.

“I just hit a couple of bad shots and then I guess I let it affect me a little bit and then I started to doubt myself sometimes. I didn’t hit a lot of quality shots on the back nine.

“I think I hit the first ten greens, and then I made bogey on 11 and I had a chance at 12 and then from there on 13, I hit a bad drive up the left and that just knocked my confidence a little bit and I started to struggle from there. A bit of work on the range this afternoon and hopefully come out tomorrow and play a bit better.”

“It would have been nice to play a bit better and start tomorrow with a few more shots in hand but I guess I’m in a decent position going into the weekend, and still have a great chance at winning this tournament.”

On six-under par is Tommy Fleetwood – who bogeyed the last hole to card a 70 – as well as defending champion Ian Poulter (67), four-time major winner Ernie Els (69), former US Open winner Graeme McDowell (69), as well as Spanish duo Sergio Garcia (68) and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño (71).

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