Hong Kong: India’s Anirban Lahiri and Korea’s Y.E. Yang were among the five players bunched in equal fifth place on matching 134 total, while England’s Justin Rose took a slender one-shot advantage by carding a second round four-under-par 66 to lead the UBS Hong Kong Open on Friday.
The world number seven, who had previously missed the cut at the Hong Kong showpiece in 2011, restored his confidence with the Hong Kong Golf Club by posting a two-day total of nine-under-par 131 to sit atop the leaderboard at the US$2 million event sanctioned by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregaard secured outright second with another 66 while Chinese Taipei’s Lu Wei-chih, who is continuing his recovery from a brain tumour surgery suffered three years ago, battled through fatigue to trail Rose by two shots in tied-third place alongside England’s Ian Poulter.
India’s Anirban Lahiri and Korea’s Y.E. Yang were among the five players bunched in equal fifth place on matching 134 total.
Rose, who is among one of the pre-tournament favourites, started out strongly with birdies on 14 and 18 to get into the share of the lead, having started the day tied for third.
He then rolled in a 15-foot putt from the edge of the green on the third hole to get to eight-under. Ross made another birdie on four, dropped his first shot of the day on nine before recovering immediately with a birdie on his last to snatch the outright lead.
“I’m obviously in a wonderful position going into the weekend. This course has given me some trouble the last time I played it, so it was nice to figure out more of a decent game plan, which paid off so far,” said Rose.
Lu continued to spearhead the Asian challenge like he did on the opening day of the UBS Hong Kong Open.
“It took me a few holes to get into the rhythm, just like the first round. I started gaining my confidence after a few holes and the putts started to drop,” said Lu.
“But toward the end of the round, I felt pretty tired and most of my drives ended up in the rough. Fortunately, I saved a few pars coming home,” added the father-of-two who marked his card with four birdies, one bogey and a double-bogey.
Poulter, who made a last-minute dash to Hong Kong so as to fulfil his membership requirements on the European Tour, delighted the crowds by racing off the blocks quickly with four birdies and a bogey in his opening nine holes.
Poulter, who won the UBS Hong Kong Open title in 2010, then picked up further gains on the third and fourth holes before dropping another shot on nine.
“I don't play to take part. I play to win. Even coming in as late as I did, my mind was focused on shooting a good score.
“So albeit I had not played a practice round, I've got good memories of this golf course. I know the place and I like it. And hopefully I can have a good weekend” said Poulter.
Lahiri also believes he can move into contention during the weekend despite signing for a 67 which left him three shots back of Rose.
“I'm feeling good. I think I'm playing some of my best golf in terms of how I'm hitting it. It has not been good in terms of scoring over the two days as it could easily have been in double digits.
“But you know, if I can keep hitting it like this on the weekend and give myself some chances, I'll be pretty happy,” said Lahiri.
The weekend cut was set at even-par with 76 players making the cut.
Scores after round 2 of the Hong Kong Open Championship 2015 being played at the par 70, 6710 Yards Hong Kong GC course (am - denotes amateur):
131 - Justin ROSE (ENG) 65-66.
132 - Lucas BJERREGAARD (DEN) 66-66.
133 - Ian POULTER (ENG) 67-66, LU Wei-chih (TPE) 64-69.
134 - Matt FORD (ENG) 69-65, Anirban LAHIRI (IND) 67-67, Y. E. YANG (KOR) 68-66, Nathan HOLMAN (AUS) 68-66, Matthew FITZPATRICK (ENG) 67-67.
135 - Richard McEVOY (ENG) 67-68, Jeev Milkha SINGH (IND) 65-70, Graeme McDOWELL (NIR) 66-69, Gaganjeet BHULLAR (IND) 69-66, Oliver FISHER (ENG) 66-69, LIN Wen-tang (TPE) 67-68, Andrea PAVAN (ITA) 64-71.
136 - Sam BRAZEL (AUS) 69-67, Rahil GANGJEE (IND) 66-70, Jason SCRIVENER (AUS) 68-68, Rattanon WANNASRICHAN (THA) 69-67, Prom MEESAWAT (THA) 67-69, S.S.P. CHAWRASIA (IND) 66-70, Jason KNUTZON (USA) 68-68.