Sydney, November 28 - Two-time winner Greg Chalmers from Australia grabbed the halfway lead in the Emirates Australian Open today despite the fact that he is playing in his sixth successive tournament.
Showing little signs of fatigue the lefthander fired a five-under-par 66 at The Australian Golf Club to move to five-under 137 for the championship.
The A$1.25 million event jointly-sanctioned by OneAsia and the PGA Tour of Australasia.
Chalmers leads by a stroke from world number one and defending champion Rory McIlroy from Northern Ireland (69), Australians Adam Crawford (69) and Todd Sinnott (67) and American Conrad Shindler (68), who is a graduate from this year's OneAsia Qualifying School.
American Jordan Spieth, the first round leader, carded a 72 and is a stroke further back.
Rory Hie, the only Indonesian in the field, couldn't keep up., and with a second round 75 it is the end of the road for him here in Australia.
“I don’t feel jet-lagged, it’s just my sixth event in a row and I am trying to conserve my energy. Ironically the more birdies I make the more energy I have,” said Chalmers, who won this title in 1998 and 2011.
He bogeyed his opening hole but managed to make the turn in three under, and made three birdies and dropped just one shot on the homeward stretch.
“I have been fortunate to win this event twice. I think it is very early to be talking about (winning) it given who is behind me. It’s very early to be thinking about what will happen on Sunday night. From my experience that hasn’t work out very well for me in the past,” added the 41-year-old who has spent much of his career playing on the US PGA Tour.
McIlroy had a roller-coaster round made up of an eagle, six birdies and five bogies. He was four under on his last five holes.
He said: “I felt like I had an opportunity today to maybe shoot a good one and put a little bit of space between myself and the rest of the field but it didn't really pan out that way; a few too many mistakes and it was pretty tricky out there to be honest. The wind was swirling quite a bit and it made it hard for club selection.”
Spieth, who began on the 10th, salvaged his round with birdies on his last two holes.
“It was a struggle, big time struggle. I wasn't hitting it well. If I wasn't putting well I may have shot 45 on the back nine. It was really tough to start today, I just didn't find the ball striking until the last few holes,” said 21-year-old Spieth.
Scott put his challenge back on track with a round that was eight shots better than his score on the first day.
He made an eagle and three birdies to break the course record which was bettered later in the day by American Jamie Lovemark - a last minute invite to the event who opened with a 77.
“We had a good morning for it this morning, so I had to take advantage just for the sake of getting myself back into the tournament. I guess it’s fun to shoot a course record. I'm pretty sure it might not hold up for the rest of the week but it feels good anyway,” Scott said predicting correctly.
The Australian was one ahead of McIlroy playing the final hole last year only to let the title slip away when he made bogey while the Northern Irishman birdied.
Ask why scores were high and the course was playing so difficult he said: “I think the greens were certainly testing us, getting to understand the slopes on the greens and especially around the edges of the greens.”
Leading second round scores (Par 71):
Australian unless stated
137 – Greg Chalmers 71 66
138 – Rory McIlroy (NIR) 69 69, Adam Crawford 69 69, Todd Sinnott 71 67, Conrad Shindler (US) 70 68
139 – Jordan Spieth (US) 67 72, Geoff Drakeford 69 70, Brett Rumford 70 69
140 – Robert Allenby 71 69, Rod Pampling 73 67, Jake Higginbottom 71 69, Adam Scott 74 66, Rhein Gibson 69 71, Richard Green 69 71
147 - Rory Hie (INA) 72 75