SWEDEN AND ITALY MOUNTING STRONG CHALLENGES Ireland continued their bid for glory at the Omega Mission Hills World Cup by maintaining their three shot lead at the top of the leaderboard after a four under par 68 in the second round foursomes.
Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy took team Ireland to 18 under par at the halfway stage at Mission Hills, with Sweden their nearest challengers after Robert Karlsson and Henrik Stenson’s brilliant 65 in golf’s most difficult format took the defending champions to 15 under.
Italy occupy third place, one stroke behind Sweden after the Molinari brothers’ second round 66, with Japan in fourth spot on 11 under.
Team China, again supported by impressive crowds at Mission Hills recorded a one under 71 to move to eight under for the tournament, and a five-way tie for 11th place, while England, India, New Zealand and South Africa will all need something special over the closing rounds from nine under par to catch the Irish.
It was impossible not to cast the mind back twelve months as the Swedish duo once again combined magnificently over the Olazábal Course to evoke memories of their magnificent final round 63 in the same format that propelled them to World Cup glory.
Karlsson and Stenson were delighted with their seven under par second round that puts them firmly in contention to defend their crown.
Sweden’s bogey-free 65 was the lowest round of the second day of the Omega Mission Hills World Cup, but Ireland remain the team to catch in today fourball round, with both McDowell and McIlroy hoping for a repeat of their superb first round 58.
“We are looking forward to getting back to the fouballs tomorrow,” said McDowell. “We are both playing really well and will be playing aggressively in the third round, looking for loads of birdies and eagles and trying to break 60 again.”
McIlroy added: “We are still leading, which is great. We started out the day with a three shot lead and we still have a three shot lead so it was a good day. You know, foursomes is a little trickier than the fourball. You have to rely on your partner to sort of get you out of trouble.
“I think we probably would have taken 68 on the first tee this morning. We had a go today to get a bit lower than that but we played very solidly. Apart from the couple of mistakes on the back nine, we could have got a really good score in there. But I think in the end we showed really good character to come back with two birdies on 16 and 17 after the double on 15. So it was a good day.”
Players Championship winner Stenson was effusive in his praise for his partner, commenting: “I definitely put him under pressure a few times on the back nine. I left him a couple of nice three, four and five footers for par.
“Robert did great and I think the way the course played, we had a different thought when we started the tournament last year on Thursday that I was going to hit on the odd holes, but then we spoke and came up with me hitting on the even ones instead.
“I think the way the golf course plays, it fits our game perfect. Robert drives the ball really nice and I've been hitting some good iron shots, and today we made some putts, as well. We just need to keep on playing as well as we have the first two days for the next two days, and we'll have a chance.”
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