Saturday, June 23, 2018
Golf

McIlroy on pace for European Tour title at World Tour Championship

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Race to Dubai leader Rory McIlroy achieved separation Friday from main rival Danny Willett by two shots in the second round of the PGA European Tour season finale.

McIlroy, bidding to top the tour for the third time in four years, carded consecutive 68s to move to 8-under 136, four off Andy Sullivan's lead in the World Tour Championship.

On a day when most players went low, McIlroy could only match his opening round, including five birdies and bogey on the par-3 sixth. He birdied only one of the four par 5s at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

"Two solid rounds of golf so far," McIlroy said. "I felt like (Thursday) it could have been a lot better. And (Friday), I felt like I hit the ball a little better. It wasn't quite as scrappy.

"I don't think I've taken advantage of the par 5s quite the way I would have liked to, but if I can do that over the next couple of days, and keep giving myself plenty of chances, I should be close on Sunday."

Willett, tied with McIlroy in the first round, shot 2-under 70. The Englishman started well with birdies on Nos. 2-3 but bogeyed No. 5, then No. 16 immediately after birdie on 15. He needed to hole a 15-footer for par on the last and keep his hopes alive.

Sullivan shot a second straight 66 to be at 12-under 132 for a one-shot lead over the equally in-form Emiliano Grillo, who posted the low round of the day, a bogey-free 8-under 64.

Sullivan has won three European Tour events this season — South African Open, Joburg Open, Portugal Masters — and was cheered here by 30 friends and relatives who travelled from his hometown of Nuneaton, England.

He treated them to some stunning putts: a 50-footer for birdie on the 12th; one from nearly 30 feet on the 14th; and a 40-footer from behind the 18th green.

"The putter just seemed to get crazy hot from the one on the 12th hole, and everything I looked at pretty much went in," Sullivan said. "It's a nice feeling."

Grillo started and finished with birdies to reach 11 under. He hasn't won on the European Tour, but won the Frys.com Open, the first tournament of the new U.S. PGA Tour season last month, two weeks after he secured his card by winning the Web.com Tour Championship.

LPGA: Ha Na Jang of South Korea shot 7-under 65 for a two-shot lead over New Zealand's Lydia Ko halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples. Jang had eight birdies and one bogey to get to 10-under 134. Ko remains in control of yearend honors, such as player of the year, the scoring title and a $1 million bonus. Karine Icher, playing in the Sunshine State but with her French homeland in mind, shot 67 and was tied with Seminole's Brittany Lincicome and Gerina Piller (both 70) four shots back. First-round leader Austin Ernst opened with triple-bogey 8 and wound up shooting 73 to fall five back.

PGA: Kevin Chappell holed a 45-yard bunker shot for eagle on his way to 5-under 65 and a one-shot lead in the RSM Classic at Sea Island in St. Simons Island, Ga. Chappell finished with 11-under 131, one ahead of first-round leader Kevin Kisner, who had 67 at Seaside, and Freddie Jacobson, who had 67 on the Plantation Course.

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