McIlroy, Quiros stay on track

Rory McIlroy has kept himself firmly on track to the crucial win he needs here to triumph in this year’s Race To Dubai.

Rory McIlroy has kept himself firmly on track to the crucial win he needs here in the UBS Hong Kong Open if he is to triumph in this year’s Race To Dubai – but he wll be the first to admit that it didn’t come easily.

The World No 2 from Holywood in Northern Ireland has to win here at the storied Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling this week and then win again at next week’s season-ending Dubai World Championship to have any chance of catching the runaway Luke Donald for the European Tour’s money-winners title this year.

As it was on Friday evening , he was tied for first at 7-under with the big-hitting Spaniard Alvaro Quiros, Thursday’s joint leader at 6-under with him and Englishman David Horsey after both he and Quiros had posted stuttering second round 1-under 69s that, somewhat ironically, each featured four birdies and three bogeys even though Quiros shot his 69 in the morning and a dog-tired McIlroy posted the same score in the late afternoon.

McIlroy stumbled badly with two late bogeys after looking as if he was going to pull away from the field and singled out exhaustion as the most likely cause.

“Obviously it wasn’t the way I wanted to finish. I could have had a good chance there to get to 10 under par, but then to finish at seven-under is a bit disappointing.

“I hit a few loose shots coming in,” said McIlroy, the reigning US Open champion.

“It’s something I’ll have to try and eliminate tomorrow if I want to lead this golf tournament going into Sunday.

“I’m in the same position I was last night, but I feel like I could have definitely shot a few better today. But then, I suppose, if that’s my worst round of the week, it’s not too bad.”

McIlroy cited fatigue for his stumble down the stretch.

He disclosed that he had fallen ill while on holiday in the Maldives two weeks ago and was put on a drip.

“It could have been a bit of mental fatigue, a bit of physical fatigue. I don’t feel as if I’m completely 100 per cent.

“Ive just got to make sure that I have decent energy levels for the next two rounds,” he added.

In the meantime, in spite of his retaining a share of the lead, Quiros was also disappointed with his see-saw second round and especially with his bogey five at the 9th, his final hole which, strangely enough, also cost McIlroy a shot.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t play as well as yesterday,” said Quiros in reference to his opening six under 64.

“I managed the round well until the first hole, my tenth. I three-putted there. I also three-putted the next hole and I didn’t hole any good putts after that. My finishing with a bogey at the ninth was especially frustrating, but that’s is how it is.

“It’s a shame of a round because without those two three-putts, it was a proper number.Nine under would have been be great.

“The most important thing is this afternoon, people are going to shoot low, but anyway, I’m going to be up there.”

And that he was – as McIlroy was to find out.

Unheralded Thai teenager Panupol Pittayarat was a shot back after posting a three-birdie-one-eagle, best-of-the-day 65 in a tie for third place with Scot Richie Ramsay, who shot a sparkling 66 that included just one bogey.

And Miguel Angel Jiménez, who carded a 70, was a further shot back in a three-way tie with New Zealand young gun Danny Lee and a second Thai, Pariyaa Junhasavasdikul, who both equalled Pittayarat’s 65.

Horsey was now three shots off the pace in a five-way tie in 7th place after signing for a disappointing 2-over 72 that included two birdies, two bogeys and a costly double-bogey six at the ninth, where he found the water.

“It was not as good as yesterday obviously. I played all right; iron play was good but I didn’t hit many fairways, and if you miss the fairways it’s difficult to control your second shot,” Horsey said.

“I scrambled pretty well, but didn’t putt so well so for all that it’s not too bad, it’s not going to be far away by the end of the day so hopefully I’ll go well at the weekend.”

Gareth Maybin, meanwhile, produced a hole-in-one at the fourth as the Northern Irishman ended one under following a 73.

“I had 199 yards, a downwind and it was a perfect number for my five iron,” he said.

“It landed about ten yards short, rolled up, then went in. I saw it all the way and went a bit crazy on the tee.”

Ian Poulter is one under par after the defending champion produced a 68 containing an eagle, three birdies and three bogeys, while a 71 saw Padraig Harrington finish one-over as his hopes of sneaking into the Dubai World Championship receded.

Colin Montogmerie also looks set to squeeze into the weekend after a 69, but In the battle for 2012 European Tour cards, former Tour winners John Parry, Scott Strange, Nick Dougherty, Jeppe Huldahl and Anthony Kang, as well as 2008 Ryder Cup star Oliver Wilson, were all condemned to a trip to Qualifying School after missing the cut here.