Thursday 18 January 2018

McIlroy rocked by late slip-up


Rory McIlroy has produced some earth-shattering displays in his relatively short professional career, but nothing quite prepared him for an earthquake tremor while standing over a tee shot late on day two of the UBS Hong Kong Open.

McIlroy was on the 14th tee when the after-effects of a mild 2.8 Richter Scale tremor rocked the suburban Fanling course. Those in the clubhouse believed a large truck had crashed into the building. McIlroy was involved in a great tussle at the time with Ryder Cup-winning colleague, and playing partner, Ian Poulter.

"My legs just started shaking like jelly over my tee shot," said McIlroy.

"It was really scary and at first everyone wondered what was going on. I've never felt anything like that before, and I'm not looking forward to being around if it happens again."

Poulter had already teed-off on his way to an eventual 10-under-par 60 and a one-stroke lead on 13-under, and was bending down to get something from his golf bag when the tremor hit. "It was strange, as the ground shook slightly for no more than a second just as I was about to pick my ball up," said Poulter.

A player competing in the co-sanctioned event later remarked that his golf ball was shaken off its tee while there were others, such as former British Open champion Paul Lawrie, who indicated the ground had not moved for them.

The epicentre of the tremor was traced to Shenzhen, just 10 miles away in mainland China, and while it will be noted in record books, Poulter's score will not be credited as a new course record as a 'preferred lie' rule was still in effect.

McIlroy let slip the opportunity to end the day tied with Poulter when he found a greenside bunker down the 18th and then proceeded to put his second shot into the water hazard guarding the green, before taking a double-bogey. "I was trying to hit my second under a tree with a cut and just got a little steep on it and took a bit too much sand," he said. "But that's golf and that's life."

The current world No 10 signed for a 66 to be tied in third place with England's Simon Dyson (65) -- a stroke behind Korean-born American Anthony Kang (61).

Six players -- Italy's Matteo Manassero (63), India's Jeev Milkha Singh (67), Graeme McDowell (65), Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee (64) and Paraguay's Fabrizio Zanotti (67) -- are tied in fifth place at 10-under-par.

Michael Hoey benefited from a 30-minute pre-round back massage to shoot a 65 and move to seven-under- par, one fewer than Ballyclare's Gareth Maybin (67).


Damien McGrane carded a 70 to move to five-under-par while Darren Clarke sought out the tournament director after his round to have two signs moved away from the front of the ninth green. Clarke's second shot into his last hole ricocheted off a 'UPS -- We Love Logistics' sign, but the Ulsterman was certainly far from in love with the sign as he watched his ball stop short of a hazard.

Clarke immediately sought out tournament director Mikael Ericsson to have the signs moved further back off the fairway. Portrush's newest resident capped his round by chipping-in from 20 yards for birdie at his third hole and then also did the same for eagle at the next, before dropping a shot at 18 in a score of 64 for a four-under-par tally.

Peter Lawrie (66) and Paul McGinley (68) each made the cut with three-under-par totals. However, it was a disappointed Shane Lowry who double-bogeyed the last in a round of 73 to miss the one-under-par cut by two shots.

Lowry had arrived in Hong Kong lying 62nd on the Race to Dubai money list and needing a top-15 finish.

"It's disappointing, as I would have liked to be going on to Dubai but it's not the end of the world," he said.

Lowry will not play again until next January's Abu Dhabi Championship.

Hong Kong Open,

Live, Sky Sports 3, 5.0am

Irish Independent

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