Belfast Telegraph

McDowell flying but Rory misses the cut

By Peter Hutcheon

A stunning 66 has left Graeme McDowell right in contention at the halfway point of the Hong Kong Open.

But Rory McIlroy was facing up to missing the first cut of his short professional career.

The Holywood teenager could only manage a four over 74 this morning which left him on three over for the tournament, three shots over the cut mark.

McDowell, though, is starting this season as he left off the last only a couple of weeks ago with a typically mixed performance.

He was level par through the front nine with two birdies and two bogies but hit four birdies without dropping a shot in the last six holes to stay within five shots of runaway leader Robert Karlsson but just one adrift of second-placed Miguel Angel-Jiminez who shot a second round 67.

Swede Karlsson, on 12 under, came in with a second successive 64 and has yet to drop a single shot.

Meanwhile the European Open may well have been played for the final time at the K Club.

Smurfit-Kappa's sponsorship deal for the tournament expired after last year's event and as yet a venue for this year's tournament has to be confirmed.

The K Club privately hope that whoever comes in to sponsor the event will bring it back to the Co Kildare course - especially as it is to be played on the Palmer course which hosted last year's Ryder Cup.

But as its name implies, the European Open can be staged anywhere in Europe and Germany has emerged as a clear favourite to take the tournament from Ireland.

Ulster's Rory McIlroy would be less than impressed if the K Club is to lose the tournament next year.

He turned down the chance to play in two events hosted by Tiger Woods this week on the understanding that the second one, the AT&T event in Washington in July, clashed with the K Club.

McIlroy, currently in Hong Kong, said an invitation to next month's Target World Challenge, hosted by Woods in Los Angeles, came out of the blue.

But he had to turn it down because it involved a commitment to both tournaments as he was understandably eager to compete next summer on Ireland's Ryder Cup course.

"If I play in the event next month, I would also have to play in the AT&T event in Washington next July that Tiger also hosts," McIlroy said.

"That event clashed with the European Open and I just though it would be very stupid of me not to play in the European Open."

If the K Club get their wish and the European Tour and the new sponsors agree to stage the European Open once again on the Smurfit, course, it will definitely be the last time it stages the event.

For the past four years the event has been alternated between the complex's two course, the Palmer course and the newer Smurfit course.

Since its inception in 1976 the European Open has always been played in either Great Britain or Ireland and the K Club has been the venue since 1995.

Both Damian Mooney and Michael McGeady have significant ground to make up if they are to make the four-round cut at the final stage of qualifying school in San Roque.

Both Ulstermen opened with three over rounds of 75 to lie in joint 122nd overnight, nine shots behind leader Robert Coles from England who shot a 66.

Coles celebrated the birth of his first child with a round 66 which included a haul of seven birdies.

Just 30 tour cards are available from the 108-hole test.

Belfast Telegraph


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