Tired McIlroy blows Hong Kong Open defence
HONG KONG (AFP) –
Rory McIlroy’s bid to become the first man in half a century to retain the $2 million UBS Hong Kong Open came to an embarrassing end on Friday, the world number one crashing out with a double-bogey.
With the 23-year-old almost certain to miss the halfway cut after a disastrous second round, Denmark’s Anders Hansen surged to the top of the leaderboard, the tournament now wide open after McIlroy’s meltdown.
Hansen took the clubhouse lead in swirling conditions at Hong Kong Golf Club with a flawless 64 that was embellished with six birdies to card a two-day total of seven-under-par 133. Michael Campbell was seven-under through eight holes.
McIlroy, whose third place in Singapore last weekend saw him tie up the European and United States money lists, started his second round brightly, making three birdies in his opening six holes.
But then the wheels came off. With the wind picking up and under rolling clouds, the Northern Irishman went on a rotten run: he had four bogeys in five holes, made par on his penultimate hole, then finished with a double-bogey.
His round of two-over-par 72 left the starlet on five-over for the tournament, three shots shy of the projected cut. He also failed to make the cut at the US Open in June, and the BMW PGA Championship a month earlier.
“I always enjoy coming back here, it’s just a pity that this year had to end like that,” said McIlroy, who audibly groaned when his approach shot went wayward on the fifth hole, to gasps from the large watching crowd.
“The wind was tricky. It definitely made play a little trickier. I didn’t putt very well in Singapore last week. This week was the same, so a bit of putting practice is required in Dubai,” he said.
A hugely satisfying season for McIlroy concludes at the lucrative DP World Tour Championship next weekend. He has already sealed the Race to Dubai.
“If I was completely fresh I wouldn’t have been making the mistakes I was making. I’ve got a couple of days to rest and then get ready for Dubai,” added McIlroy, who said Thursday after his first-round 73 that he felt “lethargic”.
“I got off to a great start. I was minus-four for the first 10 holes or whatever and had a chance to go to minus-five and then I just started going the other way.”
At the other end of the leaderboard, a clutch of players were tied in third, among them shock overnight leader Javier Colomo, who made a second-round 71.
The last player to retain the Hong Kong Open was Taiwan’s Hsieh Yung-yo in 1964.