Maximilian Kieffer of Germany lines a putt on the seventh hole during the BMW Masters 2013 tournament at Lake Malaren Golf Club in Shanghai, yesterday.
SHANGHAI: Luke Guthrie remained the surprise leader at the BMW Masters in Shanghai yesterday, but Rory McIlroy was pleased to be hanging in with a chance as the wind played havoc for a second successive day.
McIlroy has endured a troubled season in which he fell to world number six, but his swing looked back to near its best this week after a confidence-boosting second-placed finish in Korea last week.
The Northern Irishman said he felt more comfortable with his play in the wind after his second round of level par 72, which also helped.
“The last couple of years it has got progressively better. I played well at the Honda Classic, won in the wind there. I always feel like my wind game is OK when I play on courses like these.”
McIlroy was runner-up at the event last year and lies seven shots behind Guthrie with 36 holes to play.
“Testing day again,” said McIlroy. “A couple of holes where I didn’t get it up and down like I should have. But I still haven’t done myself much damage,” added the 24-year-old from Northern Ireland.
“Hopefully the weather clears up a bit by the weekend and we can start making more birdies.”
The 23-year-old Guthrie, from Illinois, shot a one-under-par 71 after his sparkling 65 on Thursday to maintain a four-shot lead at Lake Malaren.
“Yeah definitely surprised (to be four clear). But I have been playing well and really hitting it well,” Guthrie said after his round.
Guthrie’s putter had been red hot on day one of the $7m European Tour event as he took just 19 strokes on the greens -- but it, like the weather, had cooled considerably yesterday.
“It was another difficult day. Anything in the red was a good score today,” he added. “Had a couple of bogeys. Always disappointing to bogey the last. But I made some good swings.”
Behind Guthrie, no fewer than six players were tied for second at four-under, including England’s Simon Dyson whose second successive round of 70 could have been much better if not for a double-bogey at the final hole.
“I played brilliantly up till then,” lamented the Englishman.
Also on four-under were Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, Argentina’s Ricardo Gonzalez, Scottish pair Craig Lee and Scott Jamieson and England’s Paul Casey.
“I have putted nicely for two days which has been really key,” said former world number three Casey, who has dropped out of the top 100 recently, despite winning the Irish Open this season.
“You’re not going to hit a huge amount of greens out there so you’ve got to be able to putt,” he added, after a second successive round of two-under par 70.
Casey said his goal over the last four weeks of the European Tour season was to win at least one tournament and climb back into the world’s top 50, which would get him into big events in 2014, including the Masters.
“Top 50 would be the best golf Christmas present I could have,” Casey said. “But nobody’s going to give me it. I’ve got to go and get it myself.”
Graeme McDowell, who is second in the European Tour Race to Dubai standings and harbours ambitions of overtaking leader Henrik Stenson, started the day two under par.
Through 13 holes, two birdies and a bogey had moved him up to three-under before the wheels came off.
McDowell bogeyed three of the next four holes to slip to a two-over round of 74 and back to level par for the tournament and in a tie for 19th place.
Stenson also carded a 74 to finish at two-over par 146. AFP