A weary Rory McIlroy dropped two shots over his final three holes, but still managed to cling on to a share of the lead after the second round of the co-sanctioned Hong Kong Open on Friday.
The US Open champion had led by two shots late in his round, but eventually settled for a one-under 69 to sit alongside overnight co-leader Alvaro Quiros of Spain, who matched the Northern Irishman’s halfway total of seven-under 133.
McIlroy sits third on the European Tour money list and a win here would close the gap on Race to Dubai leader Luke Donald, but the long season appears to be taking its toll on the 22-year-old, who admitted he recently made two trips to hospital.
“I got sick for a few days in between the HSBC Champions and the World Cup,” McIlroy told reporters of his experience between the events held in the first and last weeks of last month.
“It sort of took a little bit of energy out of me. I was on a drip for three days actually in the Maldives, which wasn’t too nice,” he said.
McIlroy was holidaying in the Maldives with his girlfriend, Danish world No. 1 tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, and later spent another spell on an intravenous drip in Dubai prior to last week’s World Cup in China.
The 28-year-old Quiros matched McIlroy’s four birdie-three bogey round and was quick to display his famous sense of humor when asked how it felt to be leading at the halfway mark as he sought a second title of the season.
“Well, I made the cut, which is something good, something positive, having consideration that this golf course is not a typical fit for me, so I’m happy,” the Spaniard said.
The Fanling course might not suit Quiros’s big-hitting style, but the event appears to fit well with his compatriots after Jose Maria Olazabal (2001), Jose Manuel Lara (2006) and Miguel Angel Jimenez (2007) all enjoyed recent victories on the tree-lined layout.
Briton Richie Ramsay and Thailand’s Panupol Pittayarat sit one shot behind the joint leaders on six-under with Jimenez, New Zealand’s Danny Lee and another Thai, Pariya Junhasavasdikul, a further stroke adrift in a tie for fifth.
Defending champion Ian Poulter also shot a one-under 69, while Gareth Maybin kept alive his hopes of retaining a European Tour card for next season with a hole-in-one on the par-three fourth as part of a 73 that saw him end the day level with Poulter and six others in a tie for 21st.