Ireland and Australia lead at 2nd round of Golf World Cup in Haikou
Ireland lived up to their billing as the tournament's title favourites when they charged back into contention with a four under-par 68 to take a share of the second round lead with Australia at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup on Friday.
Australia's Brendan Jones and Richard Green could not maintain their overnight advantage after they marked their card with three birdies, three bogeys and an eagle to sign for a two-day total of 13-under-par 131 at the Mission Hills Resort in Hainan Island.
Scotland, led by Stephen Gallacher and Martin Laird, are single shot behind the Australians and Irish after they carded a 69 to take third place on 132.
The Irish partnership of past and present US Open champions, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, dropped two shots on the 11th and 13th holes after they three-putted for bogeys.
However, the Major winners showed their credentials when they responded impressively with six birdies on holes four, six, seven, 12, 14 and 16.
"I think both of us are very pleased about the score that we ended up shooting today. I think anything in the 60s in the foursome format is a very reasonable score out there," said McIlroy.
"There's still a lot of golf to be played this week, so it'll be nice to get out there tomorrow again and enjoy the fourballs and be aggressive and make a few more birdies," added McIlroy.
McDowell was full of praise for his playing partner who is the highest ranked player at world number two this week.
"Alternate shot is a very difficult format. We struggled to find our rhythm a little bit on the front nine. Rory really putted well today, which kept things together. I've struggled a little bit on the greens the last couple of days, but I was happy the way I swung the club in general today again and Rory is playing lovely," said McDowell.
Australia stunned the field with their blistering 61 on the opening day but were made to labour hard for their 70 in the testing foursomes format.
"The important thing for us is that we are still at the top, and everybody is chasing us and we are chasing Ireland now. We can't win the tournament today, but we sure could have fallen back in the field," said Jones.
The Australians reached the turn in 33 after two birdies, an eagle and a bogey. They continued to birdie the 13th but bogeyed the 15th and 18th holes.
"A little bit of a shame to have finished with a bogey, but it's a very difficult finish to this golf course and a very demanding hole, 18. Hopefully we can work that out for the weekend and not do that on Sunday," said Green.
Meanwhile, Laird was left to rue a costly five-foot par putt miss on the demanding par-four 18th.
That bogey not only resulted in their only blemish of the round but also denied them a share of the lead.
"Foursomes is a hard format and you don't often see a team go out and shoot a really low score in foursomes so we were just playing good solid golf all day which is what we set out to do," said Laird.
"When we managed to do that, we knew we weren't going to be too far back and in a good position for the weekend which is exactly where we are," added the Scot.
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