World No. 1 Rory McIlroy yesterday set himself up for a weekend assault on the US$7 million BMW Masters at Lake Malaren after a second-round scintillating 65 took him to 12-under par, two shots behind halfway leader Peter Hanson.
On a day of low scoring on the Shanghai course designed by Jack Niklaus, Sweden’s Hanson was one of three players to shoot an eight-under-par round of 64, following Shane Lowry of Ireland and fellow Swede Robert Karlsson earlier yesterday.
McIlroy had complained of headaches during his opening 67 on Thursday, which the Northern Irishman put down to pollution. Yesterday he had to battle the sound of fireworks, music and pile drivers around the course to get the job done.
“Fireworks? I thought they were gunshots going off there,” he laughed. “You’re always going to have distractions out there, whether it is people with cameras or movement in the crowd.”
One of the only semblances of trouble for the double major winner came on the final hole, where McIlroy’s tee shot found the right-hand rough.
However, it was in area trampled by spectators that gave him a good enough lie to put his approach to 10 feet and safely two-putt for par.
McIlroy, the USPGA champion, is looking for another big pay day to tighten his grip on the Race To Dubai as he seeks to emulate Luke Donald’s feat of last year by winning the money lists on both sides of the Atlantic.
Karlsson, who is third on nine under par, went on a run of six birdies in a row from the sixth hole in his 64, just two birdies short of equaling the all-time record on Tour.
Lowry won his first professional title at the Portugal Masters a fortnight ago and the likeable 25-year-old seems to have carried the momentum all the way to China.
He finished yesterday with a share of fourth place on eight under par, alongside overnight leader Donaldson, who shot 74, Justin Rose and Alex Noren, who both carded four-under 68s.