McIlroy holds onto lead at Shanghai Masters, despite front-nine struggles

rory mcilroy
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Rory McIlroy bogeyed the fourth hole and doubled the ninth Friday before recovering with four birdies on the back nine.
By
Associated Press

Series: Other Tour

U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy shot a 3-under 69 on Friday to take a two-stroke lead after the second round of the big-money Shanghai Masters.

After a bogey-free opening round on Thursday, McIlroy struggled on the front nine, bogeying the fourth hole. He hit his drive into the water on the par-4 ninth and took a double bogey to drop back into a four-way share of the lead.

SHANGHAI MASTERS

The inaugural edition of the Shanghai Masters features a 30-man field -- 10 of whom are major champions -- playing for a $2 million first prize that is the richest in all of golf.

The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland recovered with four birdies on the back nine to finish at 11-under 133 -- two strokes ahead of Noh Seung-yul of South Korea.

“I liked the birdie on 18, and had a good back nine,” McIlroy said. “To shoot four birdies kept me going after the double bogey.”

Noh, 20, made the biggest move of the day, making nine birdies for a 63 -- the lowest round of the tournament so far -- and vaulting from joint 18th place to second. He birdied three of his last four holes.

Noh, ranked 95th in the world, got his biggest victory to date at the Malaysian Open last year, where he become the second-youngest winner in European Tour history. He is also a former Asian Tour rookie of the year.

“I had hurt my ankle and not been able to practice too much and also not be able to swing as hard as I would like. I just decided to be careful with how I played,” he said. “I putted well and chose good options, which obviously helped my score.”

Anthony Kim of the United States (68) and Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa (66) were a stroke behind Noh at 8 under, followed by Padraig Harrington of Ireland (70) and Hunter Mahan of the United States (72).

Mahan, who was in second place after the opening round, also had trouble on the front nine on Friday, bogeying twice and holing just one birdie. He was at 1 under for the day until bogeying the 18th hole to finish at even par.

Ian Poulter (71) and Robert Karlsson (69) were 6 under, and John Daly followed his opening 69 with a 70 to match Lee Westwood (70), Colin Montgomerie (69) and Masters champion Charl Schwartzel (69) at 5 under.

There are 30 players, including 10 major winners, vying for the $2 million first prize, the richest in golf. The International Management Group-run event, being held for the first time, is not sanctioned by a major tour and does not have world-ranking points.