Dustin Johnson surges five shots clear as McIlroy stumbles on back nine
American shoots 63 in Shanghai to move to 12 under after second round
Dustin Johnson waves to the crowd on the 18th hole during the second round of the WGC-HSBC Champions at the Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Dustin Johnson and his caddy look over his putt on the 18th green during the second round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai. Photo: Aly Song/Reuters
A last-hole gamble backfired on Rory McIlroy as Dustin Johnson stormed into a commanding lead in the second round of the WGC-HSBC Champions on Friday.
McIlroy held a two-shot lead after a sparkling opening 65 at Sheshan International Golf Club and was three clear when he followed five straight pars with birdies at the sixth, seventh and eighth.
However, the back nine was an entirely different story as McIlroy bogeyed the 11th after catching the face of a fairway bunker with his escape and dropped another shot on the 15th by failing to get up and down from a greenside bunker.
The 24-year-old scrambled pars on the next two holes before his drive on the par-five 18th stopped just a few feet from the lake which runs down the right-hand side of the hole, leaving him 228 yards to the green, all over water.
McIlroy had no hesitation in taking the shot on, but saw his second come up several yards short of the green in the hazard. After taking a penalty drop back onto the fairway, McIlroy hit a wonderful fourth shot from 250 yards to 15 feet but missed the par putt and signed for a level-par 72.
That left the two-time Major winner on seven under and five shots behind Johnson, who had charged through the field with a course record-equalling 63.
“Disappointing, frustrating,” was how McIlroy summed up his round to reporters.
“I obviously played nicely on the front nine and then started to hit a lot of sloppy shots on the back. I missed the last six greens in a row, seven on the back nine, so a bit of work is needed on the range this afternoon.
“I hit a couple of bad shots and then I guess I let it affect me a little bit and then I started to doubt myself sometimes. I didn’t hit a lot of quality shots on the back nine.
“It would have been nice to play a bit better and start tomorrow with a few more shots in hand but I guess I’m in a decent position going into the weekend, and still have a great chance at winning this tournament.”
Johnson, four behind McIlroy following an opening 69, birdied six of his first seven holes – his only par coming on the third – and narrowly missed further birdie chances on the eighth and ninth to be out in 30.
The big-hitting American dropped his first shot of the day after missing the green on the 10th, but responded with birdies on the 13th, 14th, 16th and 18th.