Tuesday 17 January 2017

McIlroy joins front-runners but faces stiff competition for Korea title

LADIES EUROPEAN TOUR

Published 08/10/2011 | 05:00

RORY McILROY led a veritable cavalry charge into the weekend at the Korea Kolon Open yesterday. Prominent in a five-man tie for the lead on five-under, the Holywood star has high hopes of claiming his first victory since June's US Open.

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McIlroy brought his shooting boots to Seoul, landing 12 birdies in the opening 36 holes at Woo Jeong Hills as he followed up on Thursday's 68 with a two-under 69 yesterday to join the front-runners.

Yet the Ulsterman faces stiff competition, especially from his co-leaders, defending champion and 2009 US PGA winner YE Yang, American golf's hottest prospect Rickie Fowler, Aussie Bronson La Casse and 40-year-old Korean Tour veteran Moo Joong-kyung.

Starting on the back nine yesterday, McIlroy went to the turn in level-par after mixing birdies at 12, 14 and 18 with bogeys at 13, 15 and 16. But he came home in 34 thanks to back-to-back birdies at the par-three fourth and par-five fifth.

"It was a good round. I felt it could have been lower, but I played solid golf and holed some nice putts," said McIlroy, third in the 2009 Korea Open and determined to win this weekend after three consecutive top-three finishes on Tour.

"It's a good start to the tournament and I have put myself in a good position going into the weekend," he added.

Yet few in Korea this weekend are more hungry than McIlroy's fellow 22-year-old Fowler, who is desperate for the first win of his two-year pro career.

But Yang will also be a major threat after he carded a round of one-under 70 to remain in the hunt.

"In the morning it was very cold, so on the front nine I did not play well and I was not able to record a lot of birdies," he said. "But on the back nine I felt better, although I regret not being able to score better."

MARTINA GILLEN certainly had a mixed bag during yesterday's first round of the Sicilia Italian Ladies Open. After playing her opening eight holes in six-over, the Dublin native didn't put a foot wrong as she completed the next 12 in three-under for a 75 and a share of 55th pace. Rebecca Codd shot 74 at Il Picciolo and was eight off the pace set by English veteran Trish Johnson (66).



CHALLENGE TOUR

A glittering string of six successive cuts made since the Irish Open came to a shuddering halt for Simon Thornton at the Allianz Open de Lyon. A bogey-bogey-bogey-bogey finish and a second-round 75 at Golf Du Gouverneur left him one outside the mark on one-over. Colm Moriarty (74, +3) and Niall Kearney (75, +4) also missed out. Julien Quesne for France led by one on nine-under after his 66 yesterday.

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