Matt Dunham/AP/Press Association Images
On top of the world

Rory and G-Mac surge into a share of World Cup lead

Ireland are currently tied on -13 with Australia after day two at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in China.

RORY MCILROY and Graeme McDowell couldn’t quite reproduce yesterday’s flawless golf on day two of the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in China.

But it hardly mattered as the Irish duo shook off a couple of mid-round blips to power up the leaderboard, joining Australia in a tie at the top after an impressive round of four-under par 68.

After putting themselves in an excellent position with a bogey-free 63 yesterday, Ireland lived up to their favourites tag with a solid display in the more difficult foursomes format.

The highlight of the day came at the 16th when McDowell splashed out of a greenside bunker to within two feet, allowing his young partner to roll in for a three, the pair’s sixth and final birdie of the round.

After dropping their first shots of the tournament with bogies at the par-three 11th and the par-five 13th, it was the birdie at 16 that salvaged a mixed back nine and moved them up alongside the Aussie team of Richard Green and Brendan Jones on -13.

Scotland’s Martin Laird and Steven Gallacher are currently a shot off the pace after carding a 69 today while Spain, New Zealand and the USA all share a tie for fourth on -10.

“I think both of us are very pleased about the score that we ended up shooting today,” said world number two McIlroy afterwards. “I think anything in the 60s in the foursomes format is a very reasonable score out there.

There is still a lot of golf to be played this week, so it will be nice to get out there tomorrow again and enjoy the fourballs, and be aggressive and make a few more birdies.

I think we are very pleased with how today went and we’re looking forward to the weekend.

Ireland wasted no time in following up on yesterday’s excellent performance, kicking off this morning’s round with early birdies at four, six and seven.

And when they made their first bogeys just after the turn, McIlroy and McDowell showed their resilience by bouncing back to pick up shots at both 12 and 14.

With the format switching back to foursomes for tomorrow’s penultimate round, McDowell said that the pair will be able to really kick on from here.

“Alternate shot is a very difficult format,” he said. “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 with the way I swung the club in general today again and Rory is playing lovely.

We’re looking forward to getting back out there into better-balls tomorrow where we can both play a little bit more aggressively and get in our rhythm better.

But we’re very, very happy with that performance today.

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