Sport Golf

Sunday 15 December 2019

Graeme McDowell sets the pace with sparkling round at WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai

Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland tees off on the third hole during the second round of the WGC-HSBC Champions golf tournament in Shanghai November 7, 2014
Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland tees off on the third hole during the second round of the WGC-HSBC Champions golf tournament in Shanghai November 7, 2014

Phil Casey

Ryder Cup star Graeme McDowell continued to set the pace on the second day of the £5.4milllion WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai on Friday.

McDowell, who won all three of his matches in Europe's victory at Gleneagles in September, held a two-shot lead overnight after an opening 67 at a toughened-up Sheshan International.

And the former US Open champion remained out in front thanks to three birdies in his first eight holes taking him to eight under par, three ahead of double Masters champion Bubba Watson, South African Tim Clark and Sweden's Jonas Blixt.

For the second day running McDowell birdied the second and third, but also picked up a shot on the 603-yard par-five eighth - a hole where he carded one of his two bogeys on Thursday after what he described as "a comedy of errors".

World number two Adam Scott was certainly not laughing about that hole after running up a quadruple-bogey nine, the Australian's wild drive into the trees ending in an unplayable position and his fifth shot finding a hazard in front of the green.

A run of four birdies in his first six holes had seen Scott close to within a shot of McDowell, but he found more water on the ninth to card a double bogey and a bogey on the 11th dropped him nine shots off the pace.

Watson briefly closed the gap to two shots thanks to a brilliant finish, the left-hander completing a 67 with five birdies in succession which included using his three wood to "chip" in from the fringe on the 17th after a more orthodox chip in on the previous hole.

Blixt had also moved to six under with a birdie on the sixth - his 15th hole - but McDowell responded immediately with a birdie from 18 feet on the par-five 14th to move to nine under.

Watson's brilliant finish was almost matched by England's Ian Poulter, who surged up the leaderboard with four birdies in the last five holes.

That took Poulter, who finished runner-up to American Dustin Johnson last year, into second place on seven under par, three shots behind McDowell who parred the last three holes to card a second consecutive 67.

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