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McIIroy and McDowell catch Australia

IRELAND duo Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell are perfectly poised to challenge for the Golf World Cup after their second-round foursomes at the Mission Hills resort on Hainan Island in China.

Ireland are tied for the lead on 13-under par alongside Australian pair Brendan Jones and Richard Green, who struggled to emulate their stunning opening 61.

Following yesterday's 63, Ireland maintained their pursuit of Australia as McIlroy and McDowell compiled three birdies in their front nine to move to 12 under par.

Bogey on 11 and 13 were quickly cancelled out by birdies on 12, 14 and 16 as McIlroy and McDowell closed in on the outright leaders.

A superb approach shot on the notoriously difficult 18th had McDowell smiling and laughing with the Chinese television cameras but McIlroy left his birdie putt agonisingly short for Ireland to finish with a 68.

Scotland's Martin Laird and Stephen Gallacher are a shot further back on 12-under after another solid display saw them card a 69 and stay in contention for the overall honours.

Spain and New Zealand were big movers this morning and lie on 10-under along with the American duo of Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland, who shot a 70. England's Ian Poulter and Justin Rose kept in contention with a 69 to lie on nine-under par and they are joined by the Netherlands and Mexico.

Meanwhile, Darren Clarke is nine shots off the lead at the Australian PGA on two under par. European Tour regular Marcus Fraser of Australia shot a 7-under-par 65 today to take a two-stroke lead over American Bubba Watson after two rounds.