Kuala Lumpur: World number nine Rory McIlroy roared into the joint clubhouse lead at the Maybank Malaysian Open with a stunning second round of eight-under-par 64 on Friday.
The Northern Irishman, who arrived in Malaysia on the back of a heartbreaking loss at the Masters Tournament where he led for 63 holes, produced the fireworks with eight birdies at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
Sweden’s Alexander Noren, the overnight leader, battled to a 69 to tie McIlroy on 11-under-par 133 at the US$2.5 million showpiece which is celebrating its 50th anniversary and sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
England’s Simon Dyson, the Asian Tour number one in 2000, matched McIlroy’s effort with an equally brilliant 64 to move up to third, one shot back. Bangladeshi Siddikur led the Asian charge with a 71 for a 139 total in tied 10th place.
World number one and US PGA Championship winner Martin Kaymer of Germany was tied 28th after adding a 71 to his opening 70 for a 141 total, eight strokes behind the leaders.
Following a suspension of play for two hours and 40 minutes in the afternoon due to a lightning storm, none of the afternoon session players completed their rounds. A total of 77 players will resume play at 7.40am, Saturday.
Italian teenager Matteo Manassero was on six-under for the tournament through 12 holes while newly crowned 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.
The Maybank Malaysian Open title holder Noh Seung-yul of Korea was two-over for the championship through 13 holes and will need several birdies in his last five holes tomorrow to survive the halfway cut.
The 21-year McIlroy took full advantage of ideal scoring conditions with an outward 31 before adding three more birdies coming home. “Today I went out and played well. I have done for a couple of days but the difference was I holed a couple of putts. It feels good. I’ve got my swing in a nice groove. I’ve been driving the ball pretty good which you need to around here. I’ve not missed many shots. 11 under after two days here is a great effort considering I’ve travelled so far and not seeing the course,” said McIlroy, who only arrived in the Malaysian capital early Wednesday morning.
Chasing a third professional victory, McIlroy put himself in prime contention to win the Maybank Malaysian Open a week after suffering a huge Masters letdown where he tumbled out of the lead with a closing 80.
McIlroy has been extremely positive and knows a win on Sunday would be the perfect comeback. “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, winner of the 2009 Omega European Masters which is also sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour, suffered in the heat and humidity, dropping a bogey on his 16th hole after four earlier birdies.
“I had a great 14 holes but the heat got to me because it was so hot and I was just counting how many holes I had left,” admitted Noren. “I started very nicely and hit two greens on the par fives in two and made easy birdies. It was fun.”
Dyson has a great affinity to Asia as he won the Order of Merit crown in his rookie professional season, thanks largely to three victories in 2000. Like McIlroy, he was bogey-free and fired eight birdies.
“I don’t play too bad out here. I don’t know what it is. It might be the success I had in 2000. I come out here and always seem to fancy my chances,” said the Englishman.
It was a great turnaround as Dyson felt ill on Thursday en route to an opening 70.
“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.”
Leading second round scores
133 - Rory MCILROY (NIR) 69-64, Alexander NOREN (SWE) 64-69.
134 - Simon DYSON (ENG) 70-64.
137 - Stephen GALLACHER (SCO) 67-70, Brett RUMFORD (AUS) 69-68.
138 - Pablo MARTIN (ESP) 73-65, Danny LEE (NZL) 71-67.
139 - SIDDIKUR (BAN) 68-71, Rafael CABRERA-BELLO (ESP) 69-70.
140 - Danny WILLETT (ENG) 71-69, James MORRISON (ENG) 69-71, Shiv KAPUR (IND) 71-69, Nicolas COLSAERTS (BEL) 70-70, Pablo LARRAZABAL (ESP) 70-70, Felipe AGUILAR (CHI) 70-70.
141 - Martin KAYMER (GER) 70-71, David DRYSDALE (SCO) 69-72, Alejandro CANIZARES (ESP) 69-72, Peter LAWRIE (IRL) 70-71, Graeme STORM (ENG) 71-70.
Photo - Asian Tour
Asian Tour GolfGreedy.com