Weather may hit McIlroy's chances of claiming money title in Singapore


European Tour:Singapore’s weather could have a big part to play in whether Rory McIlroy clinches the European Tour money list title this weekend.

The world number one was restricted to just eight holes on the first day of the Barclays Singapore Open, a thunderstorm suspending play in mid-afternoon with him level par and five behind leader Thomas Bjorn.

Last year’s tournament was cut to three rounds because of torrential rain and the shorter the event the harder it will be for McIlroy to climb from his current 38th position into the top three he needs for the Order of Merit crown.

Already the PGA Tour’s leading money-winner this season, the 23-year-old Northern Irishman is trying to achieve what was an unprecedented double until Luke Donald did it last season.

Even missing the halfway cut at Sentosa would still leave him a massive favourite, however. None of his main challengers is in the field, nor will they be in Hong Kong when he defends the title there next week and after that there is only the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai to come. McIlroy controversially skipped last week’s world championship in China to watch girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki play tennis in Bulgaria, but the roles are reversed now. After an opening bogey she saw him hit back with birdies on the fourth and fifth, but then came another dropped stroke at the short eighth just before the sirens sounded because of the approaching dark clouds.

Wozniacki’s fellow Dane Bjorn had long finished his day’s work by then, a five under par 66 putting him one in front of England’s Simon Khan, Spaniard Pablo Martin and Thai Chinnarat Phadungsil.

Paul Casey, back to form after crashing out of the game’s top 100 following his snowboarding accident last Christmas, is only two behind, but three-time winner Adam Scott is alongside McIlroy after a 71, Phil Mickelson was two worse than that and Pádraig Harrington ran up a seven in his 74.

Tour School qualifying:Royal Dublin’s former amateur international star Niall Kearney gave one of his most impressive performances of the year in Spain yesterday to move into a strong position to secure a spot in the final stage of the European Tour School.

Kearney fired a stunning five under par 66 over the Lumine course in Tarragona to add to his 70 of the previous day for a 36-hole aggregate of 136 and a share of seventh spot just four strokes adrift of pacemaker Liam Bond,the experienced ex-Welsh champion.

It was a bogey-free round by the Irishman, who had 13 pars and five birdies in level halves of 33. His display was in total contrast to that of Rathmore’s reigning Amateur Champion Alan Dunbar, whose hopes of progress all but disappeared as he slumped to a miserable 78 for 153 and is rock-bottom at Lumine.

Mark Staunton and Jonathan Caldwell playing at the same course are still in the hunt after 68 and 72 respectively for 140 aggregates.

Muskerry’s Peter O’Keefe returned an excellent 68 at the El Vale resort in Murcia for 139 total – regrettably he finished with a bogey – and he is four behind the leader Ake Nilsson of Sweden while Limerick’s Tim Rice was in form as he fired a 67 to remain in contention. Cian Curley is on 148 at that course and appears to have too much to do.

David Higgins from Waterville and Simon Thornton are the leading Irish players at El Saler in Valencia in 10th equal while Ruaidhri McGee, Gareth Shaw and Noel Fox are all down the field while Brendan McCarroll leads the Irish charge at Las Colinas on 141 four strokes behind England’s Warren Bennett.

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