Nicolas Colsaerts ‘in the zone’ in Shanghai
Irish duo of Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell eight under, two ahead of Michael Hoey
Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium tees off on the 17th hole during the second round of the BMW Masters 2014 at Lake Malaren Golf Club in Shanghai. Photograph: Aly Song / Reuters
Colsaerts was part of the winning team at Medinah in 2012 but failed to make the team this year and had to settle for commentating on the event instead on radio.
The 31-year-old responded by coming agonisingly close to recording the first 59 in European Tour history in his next competitive round in the Portugal Masters, where he finished second to France’s Alexander Levy in an event reduced to 36 holes by bad weather.
A superb 64 at Lake Malaren on Friday ensured those positions were reversed, with Colsaerts on 14 under and overnight leader Levy 13 under after adding a 66 to his opening 65.
“I felt like I’ve been in the zone a couple of times lately and it doesn’t really happen in such a short period of time like this,” said Colsaerts, who won the 2012 Volvo World Match Play Championship but struggled to reproduce that form when he tried his luck on the PGA Tour last season.
“So it’s pretty nice when you can get it going like this and I’ve been playing quite well for the last couple of months. I’m comfortable being back here now. I’m quite happy being here and playing the way I am capable of.”
Speaking about being reduced to the role of spectator at Gleneagles, the world number 142 added: “Even though I was far out of making that team, I still felt that I was that type of calibre player. When you get to see it like that from the outside, I certainly was missing it. I wish I could have been playing in it and it’s almost like you go back the week after and you just keep that intensity that you’ve seen at the Ryder Cup and bring that out in the next tournament.
“You realise how golf should be played on some of the courses and not be afraid of taking command. When you see match play for a week like that, it’s actually quite interesting to see how low you can go and maybe in stroke play sometimes we’re a little bit more playing on the safe side of things.”
Levy, who won the Volvo China Open in April and shot rounds of 63 and 61 to win in Portugal three weeks ago, looked set to increase his one-shot overnight lead when he birdied four of his first seven holes and picked up another shot on the 11th. However, he failed to get up and down from right of the 12th green to drop his first shot of the week and although he birdied the 14th and 15th, the 24-year-old was unable to catch Colsaerts.
Fellow Frenchman and hotel room-mate Romain Wattel was two shots further back on 11 under, with Marcel Siem, Branden Grace and Emiliano Grillo all 10 under and Thomas Bjorn alone in seventh another shot adrift.
Bjorn got off to a nightmare start with a bogey on the first and triple-bogey eight on the third, but then carded nine birdies in the last 15 holes to record a 67 in his first tournament since the Ryder Cup.
“I’ve had a really bad neck leading all the way into the Ryder Cup really, but kind of kept that quiet and kept going,” said the 43-year-old, who was subsequently a late withdrawal for the World Match Play Championship.
“And then the body after that week just couldn’t keep up with it any more.
“The Match Play wasn’t to be. I literally could not get out of bed for three days. It’s just one of those things, I’m getting a bit older now.”
Shane Lowry moved to eight under with a 66 and was alongside Graeme McDowell after the Northern Irishman followed up his opening 67 with a 69.
Michael Hoey carded a 68 to move to six under but Paul McGinley dropped back to level par with a one-over-par 73.
Justin Rose was seven under as his own comeback continued, the world number six recovering from being four over after four holes to card an opening 72 and adding a superb 65 on Friday.
“It was much needed,” said Rose, who was unbeaten in five matches and the top points scorer in Europe’s Ryder Cup triumph at Gleneagles. “The leaderboard lit up today. The guys took advantage of the scoring conditions and basically my seven under was needed to just somewhat keep pace. I played well and had the opportunity to go quite a few lower, too.”