McIlroy slows up, but widens the gap

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Thursday’s super hot Rory McIlroy wasn’t quite as hot on Friday, but he still led the Shanghai Masters after day two.

Thursday’s super hot Rory McIlroy wasn’t quite as hot on Friday, but he nevertheless widened the gap ahead of the stellar 30-strong invitational field he opposes after the second round of the Shanghai Masters in China.

The 22-year-old Northern Irishman, who fired a blistering 64 at the Lake Maralen Golf Course in Shanghai, China’s largest city, on Thursday to take a one-shot lead after the opening round, found the going tougher on day two, but after running into double-bogey trouble at the 9th hole and losing the lead, he kept his composure and hit back with three birdies that were good enough to stretch his second round lead to two.

His second-round, three-under-par 69 has taken his halfway score to 11-under and moved him two clear of closest pursuer Seung-yul Noh, currently one of Korea’s finest young prospects and the day’s biggest mover.

Noh, just 20, fired a nine-birdie, lowest-round-of-the-week 63 to rocket into second place from 18th overnight and clearly offers a threat to McIlroy who in recent months has been having some trouble with consistency.

In the meantime Noh’s 63 has swept him one ahead of the third-placed pair of Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and Anthony Kim of the US, while Irish icon Padraig Harrington is tied for fifth with Hunter Mahan.

England’s Ian Poulter and Robert Karlsson of Sweden are joint seventh.

Lee Westwood’s 70 has left him six behind in a group containing Charl Schwartzel, Colin Montgomerie and John Daly.

The Shanghai Masters is not sanctioned by any of the major tours, but is awash with prize-money and because of it, the event has attracted a world-class field that includes 10 major winners, three of whom won their titles this year.

Along with McIlroy, the other reigning champions in the field are Schwartzel, the latest owner of a Green Jacket, and Keegan Bradley, the current PGA champion.

The 30-man also includes the likes of Englishman Paul Casey, American Jim Furyk and Asian stars like KJ Choi and former PGA champion YE Yang who are contesting a total purse of $5m with $2m going to the winner, the highest first prize in professional golf.

TOP 10 LEADERBOARD

133 Rory McIlroy (NIrl) 64 69
135 Noh Seung yul (Kor) 72 63
136 Anthony Kim (USA) 68 68, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 70 66
137 Padraig Harrington (Irl) 67 70, Hunter Mahan (USA) 65 72
138 Ian Poulter (Eng) 67 71, Robert Karlsson (Swe) 69 69
139 John Daly (USA) 69 70, Lee Westwood (Eng) 69 70, Colin Montgomerie (Sco) 70 69, Charl Schwartzel (RSA) 70 69

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