Sat, Nov 07, 2015 - Page 18 News List

Kisner retains lead as big names falter

‘BEYOND EXPECTATIONS’:The US golfer, who was not able to practice before the tournament’s start, said he was surprised by his consistently low scores in Shanghai


Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy tees off on day two of the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Rory McIlroy yesterday struggled to card an even-par 72 in the second round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai to fall 10 shots behind leader Kevin Kisner.

The world No. 3 was not the only superstar to find scoring difficult as the wind picked up at the 7,200-yard par-72 Sheshan Golf Club in Shanghai.

McIlroy’s playing partners and fellow top-10 ranked players Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler carded 72 and 71 respectively.

“I didn’t play very well today,” the Northern Irishman said.

“I was just a bit flat out there. So, yeah, left myself a lot to do over the weekend, but hopefully I can shoot a couple of good scores,” he added.

The scoreboard had been dominated by rounds in the 60s on Thursday, but only 16 of the elite 78-player field managed to crack 70 on the second day.

“I’ve shot 63 around here before,” said McIlroy, who admitted he still was not 100 percent after a bout of food poisoning earlier in the week.

“No reason why I can’t go out and shoot a score like that over the weekend and get myself somewhat back in the tournament,” McIlroy added.

World No. 2 and double major winner Jordan Spieth showed he was human in a year when he almost conquered all, with three consecutive bogeys from the 11th. It was his second worst scoring run of this year after going bogey-bogey-double bogey on his first three holes in the PGA Tour’s Barclays way back in August.

“I hit some shots that I was very shocked with today,” Spieth said. “I felt like I was very lazy in my routine and it bit me with three unforced errors in a row on the back nine there.”

A birdie four at the 18th gave some cheer to the 22-year-old, who finished with an even-par 72 to stay at four-under for the tournament and in a 10-man tie for 27th beside McIlroy.

Defending champion and world No. 4 Bubba Watson lost ground with a 73, bogeying the 18th after finding the greenside lake and is a shot further back at three-under.

Kisner followed up his opening day 64 with a 66 to lie at 14-under-par, remarkable scoring for the 31-year-old US golfer who did not practice at all before Thursday because of a bad back. It surprised even him.

“It’s beyond my expectations,” Kisner said. “I had no expectations coming in. So it’s been good. I’m making a lot of putts and that’s fun.”

US-based Scotsman Russell Knox stands alone in second place on 12-under-par after a best-of-the-day 65 in his first World Golf Championships event.

Overnight leader Branden Grace found it hard to follow his stunning opening 63, managing only a 71 to fall four shots behind Kisner at 10-under-par.

“It was tough,” the South African said. “Most of these holes are tree-lined, so it’s tough to really trust the wind.”

Local hero Li Haotong continued to thrill his legions of Chinese fans with a three-under 69 and a share of fourth place at nine-under for the tournament, level with US Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed.

“It’s a pretty good start on the first five holes to make three birdies,” said 20-year-old Li, who got off to a flyer and at one stage yesterday was atop the leaderboard. “It was very cool, a lot of fun to see my name up there on the leaderboards around the course. I missed some chances, but [the] last hole was a very important up-and-down for bogey.”

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