Golf | Rose tightens grip on Hong Kong Open

Hong Kong – Justin Rose tightened his grip
on the Hong Kong Open on Friday as he moved to the top of the leader board –
but he singled out compatriot Ian Poulter as a key rival standing between him
and the trophy.

World number seven Rose, whose last visit
to Fanling in 2011 saw him turfed out early after missing the cut, shot a four
under par round of 66 to go nine under on the second day.

Poulter climbed to joint third position
after hitting 66, going seven under par at the halfway point of the tournament.

His precipitous descent to number 51 in the
world rankings saw him make a last minute dash to Hong Kong in a bid to save
his European Tour membership and his Ryder Cup chances.

Taiwan’s Lu Wei-chih, who underwent brain
surgery in 2012, who was on seven under and Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard, the
world number 285, on eight under, completed the top four.

But American Dustin Johnson missed the cut
after a poor day on the course, which saw him chalk up a two over par round of
72, including a double bogey on the sixth that left him hacking around in the

The world number eight finished the day at
one over after two rounds.

Poulter, who said he was suffering from
jetlag, insisted he was not just there to make up the numbers.

“I don’t play to take part – obviously I play to win,” the former Hong Kong Open champion said.

There is added drama for the 39-year-old
since he must finish on top to qualify for the coveted WGC-HSBC Champions event
in Shanghai next month.

He has been in the tournament, known as
“Asia’s major”, every year since it started in 2005.


Poulter added he was looking forward to the
chance of playing with his friend Rose this weekend.

“Any time you get to play with a mate,
and obviously a good one like Justin, is always quite nice,” he said.

Rose’s consistency over the first two days
saw him play just one bogey, on the penultimate hole Friday, before finishing
on a birdie.

He said he was happy with his performance
despite struggling with a sore left hip as temperatures topped 30 Celsius.

He called Poulter a “tough to
beat” opponent.

“Poulter is a past champion and he’s
on the leaderboard,” Rose said.

“He’s always good when he’s got
something to prove, and he’s probably a dangerous guy now that he’s outside the
top 50 in the world, and I know that he’ll be desperate to get back in

India’s Anirban Lahiri, ranked 39 in the
world and top of the Asian Tour Order of Merit, played a solid round of 67 to
finish on six under after two rounds – but said he could have done even better.

Matthew Fitzpatrick, aged 21, from England,
tipped by Rose ahead of the tournament as a young player to watch, also finished
day two on six under after shooting a round of 67.

Big-hitting but laid-back Johnson shrugged
off a poor performance which saw him ejected early.

“I didn’t drive it very good, I didn’t
hit irons very good, I didn’t do anything very good!,” he confessed.

Two former champions, Australia’s Scott
Hend and Miguel Angel Jimenez from Spain, also failed to make the cut after
shooting rounds of four and three over respectively.

Leading scores after the second round of the Hong Kong Open at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling (par 70):

131 – Justin Rose (ENG) 65-66

132 – Lucas Bjerregaard (DEN) 66-66

133 – Ian Poulter (ENG) 67-66, Lu Wei-chih (TPE) 64-69

– Matt Ford (ENG) 69-65, Anirban Lahiri (IND) 67-67, Yang Yong-eun
(KOR) 68-66, Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG) 67-67, Nathan Holman (AUS) 68-66

– Richard McEvoy (ENG) 67-68, Jeev Milkha Singh (IND) 65-70, Graeme
McDowell (NIR) 66-69, Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND) 69-66, Oliver Fisher (ENG)
66-69, Lin Wen-tang (TPE) 67-68, Andrea Pavan (ITA) 64-71

136 –
Sam Brazel (AUS) 69-67, Rahil Gangjee (IND) 66-70, Jason Scrivener (AUS)
68-68, Rattanon Wannasrichan (THA) 69-67, Prom Meesawat (THA) 67-69,
Shiv Chawrasia (IND) 66-70, Jason Knutzon (USA) 68-68

137 – Simon
Yates (SCO) 69-68, Masahiro Kawamura (JPN) 68-69, Robert Dinwiddie
(ENG) 69-68, Danny Chia (MAS) 71-66, Sattaya Supupramai (THA) 68-69,
Ricardo Gonzalez (ARG) 69-68, Jazz Janewattananond (THA) 69-68, Prayad
Marksaeng (THA) 70-67, Patrick Reed (USA) 68-69, Matthew Nixon (ENG)

Other notable scores:

141- Dustin Johnson (USA) 69-72

143 – Miguel Angel Jimenez (ESP) 70-73, Scott Hend (AUS) 69-74

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