World No.2 Rory McIlroy has a share of the lead at the Hong Kong Open
The 22-year-old is level on seven-under with Spain's Alvaro Quiros
McIlroy can still overhaul Luke Donald at the top of the European Tour money list
Tiger Woods is three-shots behind leader K.J. Choi at the Chevron World Challenge
World number two Rory McIlroy retained a share of the lead at the Hong Kong Open despite a poor finish to Friday’s second round, keeping alive his hopes of overhauling Luke Donald at the top of the European Tour money list.
Northern Irishman McIlroy needs to finish in the top two at the Hong Kong Golf Club to stand any chance of stopping world No. 1 Donald becoming the first player to finish top of both the European and PGA Tour money lists.
The U.S. Open champion was seven under par at the halfway stage, level with joint first-round leader Alvaro Quiros of Spain – who also carded one-under 69 – and one shot clear of Thailand’s Panupol Pittayarat (65) and Scotland’s Richie Ramsay (66).
McIlroy and former world No.1 Martin Kaymer are both over €1 million ($1.35 million) behind Donald ahead of next week’s Dubai World Championship, the season-ending tournament which boasts a prize fund of $7.5 million.
Both Donald and Kaymer are in action at the unsanctioned $5 million Nedbank Challenge event in South Africa. Donald carded 72 on Friday to be five shots behind halfway leader Graeme McDowell, while Kaymer carded 68 to be one off the pace along with Lee Westwood, Jason Dufner, Robert Karlsson.
McIlroy could have been in an even stronger position heading into the weekend, but bogeys on the final two holes saw him slip back into a share of the lead.
“Obviously it wasn’t the way I wanted to finish,” the 22-year-old told the European Tour’s official website.
“I got myself into a good position, looked like I could have had a good chance there to get to 10 under par, and then to finish at seven is a bit disappointing. I hit a few loose shots coming in.
“It’s something I’ll have to try and eliminate tomorrow if I want to try and lead this golf tournament going into Sunday.”
Quiros was also left slightly frustrated after a mixed round saw him card four birdies and three bogeys.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t play as well as yesterday,” said the world No. 50. “I managed the round well until the first hole, my 10th. I three-putted there, I three-putted the second and after that, I didn’t hole any good putts.
“Finishing with a bogey at the ninth was a bit frustrating but this is how it is. It’s a shame because without these two three-putts, it was a proper number, nine under would be great.”
Quiros’ compatriot Miguel Angel Jimenez shot a second-round 70 to be in a three-way tie for fifth on five-under 135, alongside New Zealand’s Danny Lee and Thailand’s Pariya Junhasavasdikul – who both shot 65.
Englishman David Horsey was tied with McIlroy and Quiros for the lead after day one, but he shot a 72 to drop back to eighth along with Australia’s Marcus Fraser (69), Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen (66), Austrian Martin Wiegele and Peter Hanson of Sweden.
Meanwhile, South Korean veteran K.J. Choi held the first-round lead at Tiger Woods’ postseason Chevron World Challenge after carding a six-under 66 on Thursday.
The 41-year-old, who played against Woods in the International team’s defeat at last month’s Presidents Cup, fired birdies at the first five holes.
Host Woods, seeking his first tournament win in two years, was three shots back in a tie for second with U.S. teammate Steve Stricker.
“Anything under par is a good day today with the wind up,” Woods, a four-time winner of this event, told the PGA Tour’s official website. “If the wind stayed down, you’re going to have to shoot probably 68 or below for it to be a good score.”
American trio Nick Watney, Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler were tied for fourth on 71, while World Cup of Golf winners Matt Kuchar (72) and Gary Woodland (73) were joint seventh and ninth respectively.