European Tour

Ilonen soars at China Open

2013-05-03 18:57
Mikko Illonen (AP Photo)

Beijing - Finland's Mikko Ilonen fired a record-equalling nine-under-par to claim a three-shot lead after the second round of the Volvo China Open on Friday.

Seeking his first victory since two wins in 2007, Ilonen stands at 12 under, with former winners Australian Brett Rumford and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat snapping at his heels after both shooting 67.

Overnight leader Robert-Jan Derksen (70) is a shot further back, while defending champion Branden Grace (67) is three under at the 20 million yuan OneAsia tournament.

The cut was set at par, eliminating 12-year-old local wonder boy Ye Wocheng, who became the youngest player ever to take part in a OneAsia or European Tour event when he teed off on Thursday. He shot two rounds of 79.

Ilonen, playing the course back-to-front, had a blemish-free-round that included three birdies on his opening nine and six on the way home. He has shot 63 twice before, and his score equalled the course record set by Swede Alexander Noren at the same event last year.

"I hit the ball better than yesterday. Obviously 69 yesterday was a good score and it was a bit breezier, but I gave myself more chances today -- hit more greens and hit more fairways," he said in a OneAsia press release.

"It was a very stress-free round today," he added, crediting a six-week spell away from home during the off-season with helping him prepare better for 2013.

He credited a six week spell away from home during the off season with helping him prepare better for 2013.

"I went away with my family in December to Thailand, to Black Mountain (Golf Course), for five to six weeks before the season started. Compared to a year ago it was a lot of good preparation in a facility where you can hit balls outdoors," he said.

Kiradech, who won his first European Tour event at the Malaysian Open in March, missed only one green in regulation, despite the wind around the course.

He said: "I talked to my coach last night and he said I have to keep the ball low, and if you miss, miss on the right side. If you miss on the easy side, you can still get up and down, you can still have a mistake and recover."

Young prodigy Ye said: "Golf is a hard game to play at this level of competition and on these courses, but I feel I will soon be ready for it."

Top Scores after round two of the Volvo China Open:

132 - Mikko Ilonen (FIN) 69-63

135 - Brett Rumford (AUS) 68-67, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 68-67

136 - Robert-Jan Derksen (NED) 66-70

137 - Pablo Larrazabal (ESP) 71-66, Lee Slattery (ENG) 69-68

138 - Matthew Griffin (AUS) 70-68, Graeme Storm (ENG) 70-68

139 - Mark Foster (ENG) 70-69, Richie Ramsay (SCO) 71-68, Paul Casey (ENG) 71-68, Park Sang-hyun (KOR) 69-70, Aaron Townsend (AUS) 69-70, Joel Sjoholm (SWE) 74-65, Damien McGrane (IRL) 73-66.

Read more on:    european tour  |  golf
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