Swe­den close in on leaders

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

MIS­SION HILLS, China: Ire­land’s pow­er­ful pair­ing of Rory McIl­roy and Graeme McDow­ell stayed out in front at the World Cup Fri­day but de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Swe­den pow­ered back into con­tention.

Ire­land, tak­ing a three-shot lead into the four­somes af­ter a blis­ter­ing four­balls first round, sank five birdies and an ea­gle to lead by three strokes at 18 un­der af­ter 36 holes at Mis­sion Hills.

Swe­den, fea­tur­ing world num­ber seven Hen­rik Sten­son and 2008 Euro­pean Or­der of Merit win­ner Robert Karls­son, moved to 15 un­der fol­low­ing the only blem­ish-free round of the day, which in­cluded seven birdies.

The Ital­ian team, made up of the Moli­nari broth­ers, Francesco and Edoardo, were on 14 un­der with Ja­pan a fur­ther three shots back and Wales and Venezuela on 10 un­der.

McIl­roy said Ire­land were sat­is­fied af­ter they ended the day with a three-shot lead, the same mar­gin as at the start of the round, even though they were un­able to match their first-round per­for­mance.

“It was a good day. You know this for­mat, four­somes is a lit­tle trick­ier than the four­ball. You have to, if you hit it in trou­ble, you’re re­ly­ing on your part­ner to sort of get you out, where you’re tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for your own ac­tions a bit more when­ever you’re play­ing in the four­ball.”

“I think we prob­a­bly would have taken 68 on the first tee. We had a go to­day to get a bit lower than that but we played very solidly. Apart from the cou­ple of mis­takes on the back nine, we could have got a re­ally good score in there,” he added.

“But I think in the end we showed re­ally good char­ac­ter to come back with two birdies on 16 and 17 af­ter the dou­ble on 15. So it was a good day.”

McDow­ell and McIl­roy, who fin­ished sec­ond on the Euro­pean money list, were off to a good start af­ter two birdies and an ea­gle on the front nine, giv­ing them a five-shot lead at the turn.

Ire­land dropped their first shot of the tour­na­ment on the par-five 11th. A dou­ble-bo­gey seven at the par-five 15th af­ter McDow­ell found the wa­ter threat­ened to cost them dear.

But they struck birdies on the 16th and 17th to leave them­selves with a three-shot cush­ion go­ing into to­day’s four­balls.

Swe­den fol­lowed up their open­ing day 64 with a 65. Their seven birdies in­cluded a 20-foot Sten­son putt at the par-three 17th.

Karls­son said: “We played well on Thurs­day. Didn’t re­ally put the score to­gether, but I felt like we played a lot bet­ter yes­ter­day than we did last year.

“So at the end of the day it was a lit­tle bit frus­trat­ing with a 64, but I knew that the game was there to put a good score to­gether to­day, and we did, so that’s very, very en­cour­ag­ing.”

Ar­gentina, in sec­ond place af­ter 18 holes, fell away sharply, with two dou­ble-bo­geys and an­other bo­gey in their last seven holes, leav­ing them in joint 11th po­si­tion.

Eng­land, with Ian Poul­ter and Ross Fisher, were nine un­der af­ter 36 holes on the bunker-strewn course.

And the Spa­niards, led by Ser­gio Gar­cia, ranked eighth, con­tin­ued to fal­ter as they ended the day on four un­der.

The World Cup is a 72-hole event with each team com­pris­ing two play­ers.

The first and third days are four­ball, in which four balls are used and the player with the fewest shots takes the hole for their team. The sec­ond and fi­nal days in­volve four­somes play, where the teams com­pete us­ing only one ball per pair. – Sapa-AFP

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