McIlroy shares Swiss lead

Rory McIlroy moved to the top of a tightly packed Omega European Masters leaderboard after Friday’s second round.

Rory McIlroy moved to the top of a tightly packed Omega European Masters leaderboard after Friday’s second round.

The 22-year-old shot a two-under-par 69 to lie on eight under for the tournament on a day that proved a little tougher for scoring than round one.

He shares the lead with three others – English duo Simon Dyson and Gary Boyd, who shot rounds of 68 and 69 respectively, and Welshman Jamie Donaldson, one of the few leaders to go low with a five-under 66.

McIlroy had a topsy-turvy round, though he showed little signs of the wrist injury sustained during the first round of the USPGA Championship three weeks ago still being a problem.

The Northern Irishman made an eagle two on the driveable par-five seventh, but then gave the shots right back on the par-five ninth after an errant tee shot and a three-putt from only four feet.

He also added birdies on the first, seventh and 15th holes, and a bogey on the third.

Many players mentioned that the greens were somewhat bumpy on the day.

“I gave myself a lot of chances and wasn’t able to convert them, which was pretty frustrating,” said McIlroy.

“The greens were not as good as we got them yesterday morning and I got a bit tentative.”

Dyson, meanwhile, a winner at the Irish Open last month, was happy with the state of his game.

“I played solid again and if I keep on like that hopefully I will be right in the mix again,” he said.

“The game’s as good as it’s ever been.”

18 players are within two strokes of the four leaders at Crans-sur-Sierre, the first qualifying event for next year’s Ryder Cup, meaning this is still anyone’s tournament to take come the weekend.

Five players lie only one shot off the lead – England’s Danny Willett, whose 64 was the low round of the day, Germany’s Martin Kaymer (70), South African Jaco van Zyl (68), Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti (66), and yesterday’s hero Nick Dougherty, whose second-round 72 may have seen him surrender the lead, but kept him well in the hunt and ended his run of 21 consecutive missed cuts that started back in November of last year.

“Well it was more difficult than yesterday,” he told Skysports afterwards. “Obviously, I didn’t play as well.

“I had a few iffy breaks, a couple of bad lies when I just missed the fairway, a plugged lie in a bunker and those things didn’t happen yesterday, but I suppose you get what you deserve. I hit more bad shots today.

“It was a tough day, though, because as much as I was leading the golf tournament, I hadn’t made a cut all year and as much as you don’t want that in your head, there were two things for me to play for today; one’s the tournament, one’s to get the monkey off my back with making the cut.

“I’m very pleased with the way I finished, I need to do a bit more work on my game but hopefully I can come out and play with a bit more flair and flamboyance tomorrow because today with the cut to make, it was a little bit cagey.”

Dougherty did concede that he had the odd moment of doubt, but was satisfied with the way he had battled through.

“I was at eight-under and leading the tournament and I was thinking you can’t really miss the cut,” he continued. “But if you did miss the cut it would be a hell of a missed cut wouldn’t it?

“After the front nine when I was nine-under I was never going to miss it, but I didn’t feel as comfortable out there.

“I wasn’t far off and the misses were nowhere near as bad as they have been which is a great sign, but on this golf course you can’t afford to be off because it’s so tricky. If you get out of position around the greens some of the chip shots are barbaric.”

Of his strategy for his first weekend action of the season, he added: “I’m going to go out there, play aggressively and enjoy it. I’ll try and get my game in order for tomorrow as it needs to be better than it was if I want to compete to win.”

As many as nine players are only two shots off the lead on six under, including World No 2 Lee Westwood, who followed up his opening round 67 with a 69, Italian teenager Matteo Manassero, who came back strongly with a 66 after a 70 in round one, and last week’s winner in Scotland, Thomas Bjorn, who shot a second consecutive 68.

Top 10 leaderboard

-8 Rory McIlroy 65 69, Gary Boyd 65 69, Jamie Donaldson 68 66, Simon Dyson 66 68

-7 Fabrizio Zanotti (Par) 69 66, Nick Dougherty 63 72, Jaco Van Zyl (Rsa) 67 68, Martin Kaymer (Ger) 65 70, Danny Willett 71 64

-6 Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 69 67, Matteo Manassero (Ita) 70 66, David Lynn 68 68, Peter Lawrie 70 66, Damian Ulrich (Swi) 69 67, Alexander Noren (Swe) 69 67, Stephen Gallacher 70 66, Thomas Bjorn (Den) 68 68, Lee Westwood 67 69