McIlroy and Quiros on song in Hong Kong

Rory McIlroy and Alvaro Quiros lead Hong Kong Open after second round while KJ Choi breezes ahead at World Challenge.

Rory McIlroy is looking forward to a break after a long season and recent illness [GALLO/GETTY] 

Despite looking weary Rory McIlroy managed to cling on to a share of the lead after the second round of the co-sanctioned Hong Kong Open on Friday.

The U.S. Open champion had led by two shots late in his round but eventually settled for a one-under 69 to sit alongside overnight co-leader Alvaro Quiros of Spain, who matched the Northern Irishman’s halfway total of seven-under par 133.

McIlroy sits third on the European Tour money list and a win here would close the gap on Race to Dubai leader Luke Donald, but the long season appears to be taking its toll on the 22-year-old, who admitted he recently made two trips to hospital.

“I got sick for a few days in between the HSBC Champions and the World Cup,” McIlroy told reporters of his experience between the events held in the first and last weeks of November.

“It sort of took a little bit of energy out of me. I was on a drip for three days actually in the Maldives which wasn’t too

McIlroy was holidaying in the Maldives with his girlfriend, Danish world number one tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, and later spent another spell on an intravenous drip in Dubai prior to last week’s World Cup in China.

“Well, I made the cut, which is something good, something positive, having consideration that this golf course is not a
typical fit for me, so I’m happy”

Joint leader Alvaro Quiros

“It’s been a long season, and there’s a couple of more weeks left and we get to enjoy Christmas,” he said.

“I just don’t feel 100 percent, so you could put today’s round down to that. It was just a couple of loose swings toward the end.”

The 28-year-old Quiros matched McIlroy’s four birdie-three bogey round and was quick to display his famous sense of humour when asked how it felt to be leading at the halfway mark as he sought a second title of the season.

“Well, I made the cut, which is something good, something positive, having consideration that this golf course is not a
typical fit for me, so I’m happy,” the Spaniard said.

The Fanling course may not suit Quiros’s big-hitting style but the event appears to fit well with his compatriots after
Jose Maria Olazabal (2001), Jose Manuel Lara (2006) and Miguel Angel Jimenez (2007) all enjoyed recent victories on the tree-lined layout.

Briton Richie Ramsay and Thailand’s Panupol Pittayarat sit one shot behind the joint leaders on six-under par with Jimenez, New Zealand’s Danny Lee and another Thai, Pariya Junhasavasdikul, a further stroke adrift in a tie for fifth.

The cut was made at two-over par which allowed Padraig Harrington, European Ryder Cup captains Colin Montgomerie and Jose Maria Olazabal, and double major-winning American John Daly enough leeway to sneak into the field for the final two rounds.

Gusty Challenge

South Korean KJ Choi, who regularly practises in strong winds at his U.S. base in Dallas, was seemingly unflappable in 35 miles per hour (56 km/h) gusts during Thursday’s first round at the Chevron World Challenge.

The 41-year-old is renowned for his ability to keep the ball low in windy conditions and, with his putter on song, he charged into a three-shot lead over Americans Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker after opening with a superb six-under-par 66.

Choi’s only surprise was that the strong winds forecast overnight failed to arrive at Sherwood Country Club until he had teed off at the par-four sixth, by which time he had recorded five consecutive birdies.

    The wind swept KJ Choi around the course at the Chevron World Challenge [GETTY] 

“Today I wake up early, so I am looking around outside the window and it looked very calm,” Choi told reporters with a flashing smile.

“Last night, the weather (forecasts were) saying 45 mph (72 km/h) and 60 mph (97 km/h) winds. But I’m very confident in the wind, playing with my low ball, the high draw and low draw.

“And I started very quick, and got my best record in the (first) five holes with birdies for the first time.”

At the Nedbank Golf Challenge, Graeme McDowell recovered from a double-bogey seven at No. 14 to birdie two of his last three holes on Friday for a five-under 67 and a one-shot second-round lead.

McDowell moved to seven-under for the tournament and ahead of four players, who shared second at Sun City.

American Jason Dufner had four birdies in his 68 to go to six-under. Robert Karlsson (69), Martin Kaymer (68) and defending champion Lee Westwood (70) were one off the lead with Dufner.

Top-ranked Luke Donald was tied for eighth at three-under with his one-under 71 after he bogeyed two of his first four holes.

Overnight co-leader Charl Schwartzel slipped to 10th in the 12-man field with a two-over 74 at Gary Player Country Club.

Source: News Agencies

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