Golf | McIlroy falls back, Kisner streaks ahead

Shanghai – Rory McIlroy struggled to a
level-par 72 on Friday in the second round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in
Shanghai to fall nine shots behind leader Kevin Kisner.

The world number three wasn’t the only
superstar to find scoring difficult as the wind got up at the 7,200-yard par-72
Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai.

McIlroy’s playing partners and fellow
top-10 ranked players Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler carded 72 and 71

“I didn’t play very well today,”
said the Northern Irishman. “I was just a bit flat out there. So, yeah,
left myself a lot to do over the weekend but hopefully I can shoot a couple of
good scores.”

The scoreboard had been dominated by rounds
in the 60s on Thursday but only 16 of the elite 78-man field managed to crack
70 on the second day.

“I’ve shot 63 around here
before,” said McIlroy, who admitted he still was not 100 percent after a
bout of food poisoning earlier in the week.

“No reason why I can’t go out and
shoot a score like that over the weekend and get myself somewhat back in the

World number two and double major winner
Jordan Spieth showed he was human in a year when he almost conquered all with
three consecutive bogeys from the 11th.

It was his second worst scoring run of 2015
after going bogey-bogey-double bogey on his first three holes in the PGA Tour’s
Barclays Championship way back in August.

“I hit some shots that I was very
shocked with today,” said Spieth. “I felt like I was very lazy in my
routine and it bit me with three unforced errors in a row on the back nine

A birdie four at the 18th gave some cheer
to the 22-year-old who finished with a level-par 72 to stay at four-under for
the tournament and in a 10-man tie for 27th beside McIlroy.

Defending champion and world number four
Bubba Watson lost ground with a 73, bogeying the 18th after finding the
greenside lake and is a shot further back at three-under.

Kisner followed up his opening day 64 with
a 66 to lie 14 under par, remarkable scoring for the 31-year-old American who
didn’t practise at all before Thursday because of a bad back. It surprised even

“It’s beyond my expectations,”
Kisner said. “I had no expectations coming in. So it’s been good. I’m
making a lot of putts and that’s fun.”

America-based Scotsman Russell Knox stands
alone in second place on 12 under par after a best-of-the-day 65 in his first
World Golf Championships event.

Overnight leader Branden Grace found it
hard to follow his stunning opening 63, managing only a 71 to fall four shots
behind Kisner at 10 under par.

“It was tough,” said the South
African. “Most of these holes are tree-lined, so it’s tough to really
trust the wind.”

Local hero Li Haotong continued to thrill
his legions of Chinese fans with a three-under 69 and a share of fourth place
at nine-under for the tournament level with American Ryder Cup star Patrick

“It’s a pretty good start on the first
five holes to make three birdies,” said the 20-year-old Li, who got off to
a flyer and at one stage on Friday was atop the leader board.

“It was very cool, a lot of fun to see
my name up there on the leader boards around the course. I missed some chances,
but last hole was a very important up-and-down for bogey.”

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