Singh leads as McIlroy and Woods give chase
BMW CHAMPIONSHIP:YOU IMAGINE this is what they had in mind when the concept was first contrived around a boardroom table. The best players in the game, all vying for the greenbacks – millions of them – and, of course, a genuine rivalry: Tiger and anyone!
Yesterday’s second round of the BMW Championship may have seen Vijay Singh move to the top of the leaderboard, but all eyes were on Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy – the new kid on the block – as they remained at the business end of matters.
Woods and McIlroy reached the midpoint of the FedEx Cup’s third tournament – with only the Tour championship in a fortnight’s time left (next week is a free one, a time to take a deep breath) – on 12-under-par 132, a stroke behind Singh, and seemingly intent on going eyeball to eyeball for as much as this season-ending play-off series can take.
“I didn’t hit the ball quite as well as I did (in the first round), but scored well enough and still managed to get around,” said McIlroy, winner of last week’s Deutsche Bank championship and top of the FedEx Cup standings with a $10 million bonus in the offing for whoever stays there until after the Tour Championship.
McIlroy added a 68 to his opening 64 while Woods added a 67 to his first round 65 to leave the pair locked together.
The highlight of McIlroy’s round came on the ninth, where he hit a 215 yards approach to five feet and sank the eagle putt.
All in all, it was a good day’s work for the Irish trio in the field. Although McIlroy heads into the weekend just a shot behind Singh, Graeme McDowell and Pádraig Harrington made good on their respective efforts to move into the top-30 on the standings who progress on to the Tour Championship.
McDowell, who suffered a two shot penalty in his final round on Thursday for touching a leaf in executing a bunker shot on his final hole, responded with a 67 for 137 and Harrington produced a scintillating 65 to join him on that mark.
“I’d love to have those shots back, but I made some early birdies to negate the penalty,” remarked McDowell of his bounce back round.
“I called the penalty on myself. You have to try to be honest out there, otherwise the game will come back and bite you . . . I’ve never been in that position before in a trap where I’ve had something obscuring my address position. It’s a very unusual scenario. I didn’t know the rule, and it’s a very costly lesson unfortunately.”
McDowell heads into the weekend in a share of ninth place, with Harrington – who hit a three-wood approach to 15 feet on the ninth, his closing hole, to set up an eagle – also on that mark. The Dubliner’s quest to make it to the Tour Championship in Atlanta in two weeks time will require further upward movement over the final two rounds with a top-five finish required to move into the all-important top-30 on the FedEx Cup list.
McIlroy – a three-time winner on the US Tour this season, including the US PGA – has his eyes on the grand prize.
“I’ve put myself in a great position going into the weekend . . . (the course), it’s soft and you’re going to have to go out there and shoot low scores. That’s just the way it is. East Lake (for the Tour Championship) might be different, but this week you get what you’re getting, and you’ve just got to play with it,” said the world number one.
Singh, at 49, is 26 years older than McIlroy, but the Fijian is the man to be caught over the final two rounds on a course playing soft and with receptive greens.
“I’ve got to keep it going. I’ve been playing well for two days for a while now, but I need four days of good playing. Sooner or later I think four days is going to happen, and hopefully it starts this week,” said Singh, who had led at the US PGA only to falter over the weekend.