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Rory McIlroy joins leaders
September 2, 2011

Rory McIlroy shot a 2-under 69 to move into a four-way tie for the lead in the European Masters second round on Friday.

The U.S. Open winner, who had an eagle two and a double-bogey seven, is 8 under with Englishmen Gary Boyd and Simon Dyson, and Jamie Donaldson of Wales.

McIlroy rued missing a four-foot putt for birdie at the 18th.

“I really wanted to make that to get into the lead on my own,” the Northern Irishman said. “All in all, I’m tied for the lead and it’s not a bad position to be in.”

Morning leader Nick Dougherty of England ended his 21-tournament streak of failing to make the cut, shooting 72 after his 63 on Thursday to be 7 under.

Dougherty has not reached weekend play since the Singapore Open in November 2010, and does not yet figure on the current European money list.

“If I can play anything like I did on the first day, I’m going to win this tournament and that’s what it is all about,” said Dougherty, who has three career victories.

Joining him one stroke behind the leaders were Martin Kaymer of Germany, Jaco van Zyl of South Africa, Fabrizio Zanotti of Paraguay and Danny Willett of England.

World No. 5 Kaymer and sixth-ranked McIlroy can climb to third with victory here.

Lee Westwood, the world No. 2, also shot 69 and is two shots back on 6 under with nine other players.

Starting his round after lunch, McIlroy hit possibly the day’s best shot when driving to the pin at the 339-yard fifth, fading right over trees to bypass the dog-leg fairway.

He sank the two-footer for an eagle he described as “pretty special,” but gave back both shots on the 629-yard ninth.

McIlroy pushed his second shot right onto the 10th fairway—drawing a bemused glance from Kaymer striding in the opposite direction—and eventually three-putted from 4 feet.

“I was pretty frustrated heading into the back nine,” McIlroy acknowledged, “but I played OK. There’s been a lot of traffic on (the greens). You start becoming a little tentative.”

McIlroy steadied himself and only a birdie at the 15th interrupted his sequence of pars.

Kaymer had his own double bogey at the par-3 16th, taking four shots from the green edge after his tee shot found a small hole.

“Sixteen was a joke,” said the 2010 U.S. PGA champion, who criticized the putting surfaces. “The greens have become really bad in the afternoon. There are a lot of other guys who got stuck at seven or eight under.”

Kaymer cheered up at the prospect of battling McIlroy for the title and a higher world ranking.

“Maybe we can play with each other on Sunday for the victory—that would be fantastic,” the former world No. 1 said.

Taking advantage of morning conditions, Willett shot a day’s best 64. He began at level par, eagled the par-5 first and added five more birdies without dropping a shot.

Colin Montgomerie, Europe’s 2010 Ryder Cup-winning captain, got a 66 to follow his opening-day 76 but was still two shots adrift when the cut was made at 2 under.

Jose-Maria Olazabal, who will captain the 2012 team at Medinah, Illinois, shot 76 and was 9 over.

The Swiss tournament is the first that counts toward qualifying to represent Europe next year. It is also the only event in Europe co-sanctioned by the European and Asian tours.

Noh Seung-yul led the Asian money list last year but missed the cut at 1 over. The 20-year-old South Korean showed power off the tees but a less impressive short game playing alongside McIlroy and Miguel Angel Jimenez. The defending European Masters champion from Spain finished at 4 under.


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