McIlroy bounces back
Rory McIlroy gave a clear demonstration on Friday that his Masters heartache would not hang over him as he fired an eight-under-par second round of 64 to join Alexander Noren at the top of the leaderboard at the Maybank Malaysian Open.
The Northern Irishman was brilliant for three rounds at Augusta last week before falling away in spectacular fashion as he relinquished a four-shot lead with a first major title in sight, and there had been fears his Masters collapse would have a psychological effect on him in the longer term.
McIlroy insisted last Sunday that he would not have a Masters hangover and has gone some way to proving it at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club this week, hitting eight birdies today in a bogey-free round which took him to 11 under after 36 holes.
He started on the 10th tee and rattled off three birdies in his first four holes, before following up with a cool 12-foot putt at the 16th and another three at the par-four 17th. Coming home McIlroy added three more birdies to move alongside first-round leader Noren of Sweden, who fired a three-under-par round of 69 to add to his opening-day 64.
Asked whether his round had proved to him he was over his Masters misery, McIlroy told www.europeantour.com: "It would show more to everyone else other than myself that last week didn't set me back. I've started this week off great but I need to keep going and making birdies and shooting low scores if I want to win."
Englishman Simon Dyson would also have been happy with his round, matching McIlroy's second-round score to move into third at 10 under.
Scotland's Stephen Gallacher shot a two-under-par 70 to add to his first-day 67, which was good enough for a share of fourth place alongside Australian Brett Rumford at seven under.
A thunderstorm forced the later starters and spectators away from the course, with play resuming at 6.15pm local time after a delay of more than two-and-a-half hours.
One of the players affected was Italian Matteo Manassero, who turns 18 next week. He was second at the end of the first round at six under par but could not improve that total through 13 holes of his second round, and will resume at 7.40am local time tomorrow as the second round spills over into day three.
Another player who may ultimately challenge for the halfway lead is Australian Scott Barr, who was three under through 10 holes to join Manassero, Spain's Pablo Martin and Danny Lee of New Zealand in a tie for sixth at six under, with the latter two in the clubhouse.