McIlroy shares lead with Noren in Malaysia


KUALA LUMPUR – Rory McIlroy fired a second round eight-under-par 64 to soar joint top of the Malaysian Open on Friday, defying the jet-lag and exhaustion that nearly got the better of US Masters winner Charl Schwartzel. Both the players flew halfway across the globe from Augusta, where Schwartzel won his Green Jacket and McIlroy blew a four-shot final-round lead, to land here without their clubs that cost them precious practice rounds.
The sleep-deprived golfers responded differently to the hot and humid conditions at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. A jaded Schwartzel hauled himself just above the projected cut line and was on even-par after 31 holes when the second day’s play, hit by a more than two-and-half-hours’ delay due to lightning, was suspended. In contrast, McIlroy hardly put a foot wrong, firing a bogey-free round to join overnight leader Alexander Noren (69) at 11-under before the disruption.
Starting at the 10th hole, world number nine McIlroy blasted five birdies in an outward 31 and added three more to complete a bogey-free round. “Eleven under after two days here is a great effort considering I’ve travelled so far and not seeing the course. I’m happy with how I played,” said the 21-year-old from Northern Ireland.
“It would show more to everyone else other than myself that last week didn’t set me back. I’ve started this week off great but I need to keep going and making birdies and shooting low scores if I want to win.” McIlroy would also need to tackle the heat and humidity in the same manner as he did on Friday.
“I don’t mind the heat but my hands get sweaty. It’s hard to grip the club sometimes. You have towels here and towels there to make sure everything is dry. “My hands sweat more than a lot of players so I have to make sure my grip is dry and hands are sweat-free.” He was also monitoring the amount of water he was drinking to rehydrate himself.
“A bottle every two holes.” Many fellow players and fans had speculated how McIlroy would respond to the disappointment of a collapse over the final nine holes in the Masters which cost him his first major title on Sunday. So far, he has answered the sceptics in some style.
Englishman Simon Dyson matched McIlroy’s 64 to lie one shot off the clubhouse lead, while world number one Martin Kaymer carded 71 to be three-under.