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McGrane hits sweet 66 to go on another China charge

DAMIEN McGRANE bids for a second Volvo China Open title this weekend about 100 miles away from the scene of his first, and a sweet 66 yesterday at Binhai Lake showed that the Kells man is a lot closer to top form.

McGrane (42), whose only European Tour victory came in Beijing five years ago, was delighted to rediscover his competitive edge in Tianjin as he surged into a tie for ninth on five-under-par through 36 holes.

It's 13 months since McGrane's last top-10 finish, and he has made only five of 11 cuts this season.

"It's nice to hole a few putts and get myself back into the game again," said the Meath man, who had 13 one-putt greens as he racked-up seven birdies yesterday. With just 23 putts in all, he had nine fewer than in Thursday's 73.

"Obviously I've fond memories of the Volvo China Open so it's nice to be moving up the leaderboard. I've been struggling to get the right scores on the scorecard. Maybe this week will turn it around for me."

McGrane was tied with a resurgent Paul Casey, among others, seven behind leader Mikko Ilonen (33) after the Finn equalled the course record and his own career best with a faultless 63.

Ilonen led Aussie Brett Rumford and Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat by three after both shot 67s.

Michael Hoey (74, two-over), Gareth Maybin (71, three-over), Peter Lawrie (74, five-over) and Paul McGinley (75, seven-over) missed the cut, which fell at even-par.

In the Indonesian Masters at Royal Jakarta, a second-round 75 sent Darren Clarke tumbling into 50th on one-over, 11 behind leader Thongchai Jaidee.

Volvo China Open,

Live, Sky Sports 2, 6.0am

Irish Independent