Ilonen soars to three-shot lead at China Open

SUDIPTO GANGULY
Last updated 03:38 04/05/2013

Relevant offers

Golf

Lydia Ko eyes big goals in 2015 after switch to contact lenses Robert Allenby ran up $US3400 strip club bill on night of attack, say US reports Steven Alker fades badly on final day of the PGA Tour's Humana Challenge Levin’s Tyler Hodge one shot away from winning Australian amateur golf title Bill Haas survives final hole scare to win Humana Challenge in California Steven Alker on track for handy PGA Tour pay day Phil Mickelson squanders chance to shoot low at Humana Challenge Dustin Johnson set for PGA Tour return Branden Grace double in Race to Dubai with Qatar Masters win Branden Grace claims second title of season at Qatar Masters

A relaxed Mikko Ilonen of Finland brightened his chances of ending a six-year trophy drought on the European Tour with a sizzling nine-under-par 63, which gave him a three-shot cushion at the halfway stage of the China Open today.

Ilonen's spotless round took him to a two-day total of 12-under at the $3.2 million event, co-sanctioned with OneAsia, with two recent winners - Australian Brett Rumford and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat - chasing him on nine-under.

The Finn, whose two European Tour victories came in 2007, has already finished ninth in Qatar and second in Morocco this season and looked set for another strong show at the Tianjin Binhai Lake Golf Club.

"I hit the ball better than yesterday," Ilonen, who carded a 69 in the opening round, said. "I gave myself a few more chances on the greens, especially on the back nine, and managed to take quite a few of them, so it was a very stress-free round today.

"I didn't put myself in any trouble at all, which is always nice, and it's nice to be three ahead going into the weekend."

Rumford, last week's Ballantine's Champion, found motivation in the 67th birthday of his caddie John Roberts to shoot a five-under-par 67 for a share of second place.

"Each player has their own motivation, I guess, and that varies from day-to-day," said Rumford, who ended a five-year drought with victory in Korea last week.

"It was in my mind at the beginning of the day that it would be nice to shoot 67 on Ronnie's 67th birthday. Tomorrow I'll have to find something different to motivate me."

Thailand's Kiradech, who won his maiden European Tour title at the Malaysian Open in March, also carded a 67, mixing six birdies with a lone bogey.

Ad Feedback

- Reuters

Special offers
Opinion poll

If she is able to, when do you expect Lydia Ko to win her first major?

Next year, she's so close

She's still working towards it, within three years

It may be longer than we think, within five years

The expectation might be too much, maybe never

Vote Result

Related story: (See story)

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content