Sunday 26 March 2017

McIlroy trails in Chinese trek

Bernie McGuire

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

Despite a rock star-like reception, Rory McIlroy's golf continues to be low-key after two days of the China Golf Challenge.

The reigning US Open champion is trailing five shots behind England's Ian Poulter after four holes of the unique event that involves playing two to three holes a day on seven different Chinese courses over seven days.

The event began on Monday in Shanghai with McIlroy starting with an unceremonious triple bogey and bogey after finding water on both occasions.

The foursome of McIlroy, Poulter, World No 2 Lee Westwood and China No 1 Liang Wen-chong were then flown to Zhengzhou, where Westwood got to within a stroke of Poulter, who parred the two holes to lead by one at one-under par.

McIlroy stayed at four-over par after a birdie and bogey on the new Jinsho Lake Golf Club.

But while the World No 3's golf has yet to light up China, his mere presence is doing wonders for the development of the game in the world's most populous nation.

"We've played four holes over two courses and I'm only five behind," said McIlroy.

"It wasn't the best of starts on Monday, but then a lot can happen in 14 holes, especially in five days remaining," said McIlroy.

"I know if I can get a couple of birdies on day three and get a bit of momentum, then, hopefully, I can catch up later in the week.

"But this is a very unique format and it's great to see so many people turning up to see Lee, Poults, Liang and myself playing.

"It just shows how much golf is growing in China."

Day three sees the four players travel to Beijing to play two holes each at the Topwin Golf and Country Club and the Jade Island International Golf Club.

Irish Independent

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