McIlroy charge gathers pace in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Rory McIlroy’s post-Augusta rehabilitation gathered pace Friday at the Malaysian Open as he carded eight-under-par 64 to surge to the joint clubhouse lead in weather-hit Kuala Lumpur. The 21-year-old Northern Irishman, who lost his clubs en route from his US meltdown to Malaysia, hit five birdies in an outward 31 after a solid showing in Thursday’s first round of the 2.5-million-dollar showpiece. Three more birdies followed to propel him into a share of the lead with Swede Alexander Noren, who backed up a brilliant opening round of 64 with a respectable 69.

The impressive pair were out in front with a two-day total of 11-under-par 133 at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. “Yeah, I played really good today. I hit the ball well and gave myself chances and made some putts,” said McIlroy, the world number nine. “Eleven under after two days here is a great effort considering I’ve travelled so far and not seeing the course. Hopefully the crowd will come out again and support us.” Englishman Simon Dyson, who has performed consistently well in Asia, is one shot adrift of the leaders after shooting a spectacular 64 which included birdies on his final three holes. “I wasn’t feeling my best yesterday and went back to my room and straight to bed. I woke up this morning and felt better again and managed to get it going with eight birdies and no bogeys. I’m really pleased with that,” Dyson said. World number one Martin Kaymer again failed to get his game going and is eight shots adrift of the leaders after a second-round 71. McIlroy was among the few golfers lucky enough to finish their rounds as lightning and rain stopped play for two hours and 40 minutes in the late afternoon. The weather prevented 77 players from completing their rounds. Newly crowned US Masters champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa and reigning British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen were right on the projected cut mark on even-par through 13 holes.

But defending champion Noh Seung-Yul is at risk of missing the projected cut of even-par 144. The South Korean, who shot a one-over 73 on Thursday, struggled with his putter on Friday and is currently two-over through 13 holes. An upbeat McIlroy said a win on Sunday would be the perfect comeback from his Augusta heartache, where he surrendered a four-stroke lead going into the final round in a catastrophic collapse. “It would show more to everyone else other than myself that last week didn’t set me back. I’ve started this week off great but I need to keep going and making birdies and shooting low scores if I want to win,” he said. Noren, the overnight leader, suffered in the heat and humidity, dropping a bogey on his 16th hole after four earlier birdies. – Dailytimes