Friday, December 02, 2011


    Rory McIlroy in action in Hong Kong Open today. Image courtesy of Getty Images(c)

Hong Kong: An exhausted Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland battled to a one-under-par 69 to retain a share of the halfway lead with big-hitting Spaniard Alvaro Quiros at the UBS Hong Kong Open today.
Thai teenager Panuphol Pittayarat was hot on the leaders’ heels after an impressive five-under-par 65 at the Hong Kong Golf Club to lie one shot back with Aberdeen’s Richie Ramsay (66) in the US$2.75 million championship sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
On a chilly day, two-time UBS Hong Kong Open champion Miguel Angel Jimenez stayed in the hunt with a 70, two back alongside another Thai, Pariya Junhasavasdikul and New Zealand’s Danny Lee, who matched Panuphol’s low round of 65.
World number two McIlroy staggered home with two bogeys late his round after threatening to pull away from the field. “Obviously it wasn't the way I wanted to finish. I could have had a good chance there to get to 10‑under par, and then to finish at seven-under is a bit disappointing. I hit a few loose shots coming in,” said McIlroy, the reigning U.S. Open champion with a two-day total of seven-under-par 133.
“It's something I'll have to try and eliminate tomorrow if I want to try and 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. If that's my worst round of the week, it's not too bad.
McIlroy cited fatigue for his stumble down the stretch. He revealed he fell 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. I've just got to make sure that I have decent energy levels for the next two rounds,” said McIlroy, who fired four birdies against three bogeys.
Despite not liking the tight Fanling layout, the big-hitting Quiros stayed in contention for a sixth career victory, and a second of the season. Like McIlroy, he also traded four birdies against three dropped shots, and lamented two three-putt blemishes on the first and second holes.
“Unfortunately I haven't played as well as yesterday. Finishing with a bogey at the ninth, I flew it from the right rough, quite common with water in front, and a bit frustrated, but this is like this. Without these two three-putts, it was a proper number, nine under would be great.”
The 18-year-old Panuphol, nicknamed “Coconut” by his parents, shot three birdies and one eagle to charge into contention after entering the week as the third alternate. “I played well. Yeah, overall, my score came out great, and I had a good feeling about it. I was confident with my game today,” said Panuphol, who turned pro at a tender age of 14 as “I didn’t like school.”
“I haven't thought I would play well this week. I just barely got in on Tuesday. My goal was to make the cut and I'm up here now. So I'll try to keep it up on the weekend.”
Mixing with the world stars at Fanling has left him with no illusions that he will remain as the underdog in the UBS Hong Kong Open. “It takes a lot of pressure out of myself. I'm really happy playing in such a big event and it's my first year on the Asian Tour and playing the co-sanctioned tournaments. I really want to play well every week, and some weeks I just put too much pressure on myself,” said Panuphol, who is currently 54th on the Order of Merit.
After being out of the money in six of his last seven tournaments, Pariya, who enjoyed a career high last year with a maiden victory, found his groove, shooting four birdies on his back nine including a chip-in birdie at the last which sent the galleries roaring.
“It's been a long while. I haven't shot under par in a long while and today it was very good ball striking, good putting, nothing to complain about,” said the 27-year-old. “I almost stepped on my ball (on 18), and from there, I hacked it out, somehow it found the hole, found the bottom of the cup. It's pretty exciting.”
Gareth Maybin of Northern Ireland shot a hole in one on the fourth hole and won an Omega Aqua Terra Annual Calendar watch worth HKD154,200.
The halfway cut was set at 142 with 65 pros and local amateur Jason Hak making the weekend rounds.
Richie Ramsay bogeyed the fifth in his second round and then covered the next 13 holes in five under par with birdies at the sixth, ninth, 12th, 13th and 18 for halves of 34 and 32.

Par 140 (2x70). Yardage 6,730
133 Alvaro QUIROS (ESP) 64-69, Rory MCILROY (NIR) 64-69.
134 Panuphol PITTAYARAT (THA) 69-65, Richie RAMSAY (SCO) 68-66.
135 Miguel Angel JIMENEZ (ESP) 65-70, Danny LEE (NZL) 70-65, Pariya JUNHASAVASDIKUL (THA) 70-65.
136 Marcus FRASER (AUS) 67-69, Soren KJELDSEN (DEN) 70-66, David HORSEY (ENG) 64-72, Martin WIEGELE (AUT) 67-69, Peter HANSON (SWE) 68-68.
137 Kiradech APHIBARNRAT (THA) 68-69, Darren BECK (AUS) 66-71, Y.E. YANG (SKOR) 68-69, Berry HENSON (USA) 69-68.
138 Rafael CABRERA-BELLO (ESP) 69-69, Peter LAWRIE (IRL) 69-69, Juvic PAGUNSAN (PHI) 68-70, Stephen DODD (WAL) 70-68.
139 Gareth MAYBIN (NIR) 66-73, Jbe KRUGER (RSA) 72-67, Bernd WIESBERGER (AUT) 72-67, Gregory HAVRET (FRA) 70-69, David HOWELL (ENG) 69-70, Ian POULTER (ENG) 71-68, Jason KNUTZON (USA) 73-66, Paul LAWRIE (SCO) 69-70.

141 Stephen Gallacher 69 72 (T38).
142 Colin Montgomerie 73 69, David Drysdale 73 69 (T53).




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