Aaron Rai comfortably ahead, Shubhankar Sharma in T22

Aaron Rai broke the course record at the Hong Kong Golf Club to take a comfortable four stroke lead. Shubhankar Sharma made a gritty 68

Aaron Rai shot 61 at the Hong Kong Golf Club

European Tour Release, 23 November 2018: Shubhankar Sharma showed tremendous resolve and patience as he worked his way to a second round 68 at the Hong Kong Golf Club. Shiv Kapur clawed his way back to even par with a brilliant 67 on Friday.

Aaron Rai produced a course-record 61 at Hong Kong Golf Club to open up a commanding four-shot lead on day two of the HONMA Hong Kong Open presented by Amundi.

The scoring conditions were perfect for the early starters on Friday morning and Rai took full advantage, notching six birdies in his first nine holes – including four in a row from the 12th – before finding three more on the back nine to break the course record by two strokes and move to 14 under par.

That impressive total left the three-time Challenge Tour winner four shots clear of closest challenger Hyowon Park following the South Korean’s bogey-free 62.

Rai, who is still searching for his maiden European Tour win, started the day in a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard alongside Scrivener and Yusaku Miyazato on five under par after opening up with a bogey-free 65 on Thursday.

Matt Fitzpatrick was on his own in third place, two shots further back on eight under, after the Englishman made five birdies in his last eight holes on his way to a spotless 62 of his own.

Micah Lauren Shin was at seven under, with Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood, Spain’s Alvaro Quiros, Brazilian Adilson da Silva and Australians Jake Higginbottom, Jason Scrivener and Scott Hend another shot behind.

Masters Tournament winner Patrick Reed produced six birdies in his final seven holes on Friday to get to level par and guarantee he makes the weekend.

Player Quotes

Aaron Rai: “We were lucky today with the conditions. We didn’t have much wind and starting out pretty early the first nine holes, it feels like you’re playing a round at home, which is nice. Kept it in play. Had a lot of chances and made a lot of putts. Everything was on song today.

“Wasn’t really out of position all day to be honest. That may have been the only missed green.  o be able to get up and down there and keep things going is always nice, and stayed bogey free today and also yesterday is a nice thing going into the weekend.

“It started when I was eight years old, so 15 years ago now. Just happened to be given these two gloves. The guy who actually makes them sent a pair over and kind of got into a habit of wearing them and then a few weeks down the line, my dad forgot to put the two gloves in the bag and I had to play with one and it was terrible. Couldn’t play; couldn’t feel; couldn’t feel the grip. So always stuck with two grips ever since.

“Just to try and stay as close to the original game plan as much as possible. I think if you get too conservative and if you try and defend the lead a little bit too much, you can start going backwards very easily, but also you can’t get too aggressive around this course. As hard as it is and as easy as it is to say, you just have to try and stick to what you’re doing and what has got you into this position.

Hyowon Park: “I’m very happy now. I played well in my first European Tour tournament. Today, tough conditions here, so my long game is very nice, driver and second shot were good, and putting was nice. I will do same thing on the weekend, so I can go more up the leaderboard.”

Matt Fitzpatrick: “It’s been probably five or six weeks where it’s just felt, it’s kind of coming, but I’ve never really gotten a run, and today I just sort of got on a run and kept it going. Played really solid.  Played really, really solid.

“I don’t think I missed a fairway, so that’s the massive key around here because you put it in the rough and it’s a guaranteed flyer pretty much. Hit every fairway and then just made sure to get every green to give myself a chance at putting. I feel like I’m putting all right at the minute, so it came together.

“I’m not one to sort of make excuses, but we got a bit unlucky with the draw with the early start on Thursday. We went out, it was at least a two, two and a half club wind, and coming in by the afternoon, the boys are playing in not even a club wind. That made a big difference on a place like this. It’s tough to hit fairways. It’s tough to miss greens and when you do miss greens, it’s difficult to get up and down. It played a big part.

Tommy Fleetwood: “It was better. I hit it well off the tee. Got away with a couple, but irons were better, like it was a much stronger hit today. Rolled a couple of putts in at the end and be happy with the day.

“It’s a phenomenal golf course. It doesn’t matter what hole you’re on. It doesn’t matter whether you’re hitting a lob wedge in or a seven iron. The shots, most of the time, are equally as difficult.  Like I say, off the tee, whatever club you’re trying to hit, two yards off the fairway and you can’t control your golf ball. It’s great to play. You get punished for bad golf, and if you play well, you have a chance of scoring a really good one, like we’ve seen looking at the scoreboard. It’s perfect.

“So difficult to be aggressive on the golf course because it can catch you out at any moment. You feel, if I played like today and shot that kind of score, then that’s all you can do. If he carries on, or if he makes any headway at the weekend, then I’m quite happy for him to win, really. He deserves it.

“We’ve played 36 holes and there’s 36 more to go. You know, as soon as you get ahead of yourself around here, you’re going to just lose it. You’ll get punished. I’ll keep plugging on. I’ve got two more rounds left in the year, and hopefully I can make them good ones. I would like to do a lot more of the stuff I did today and just try and get a few of the wedges a bit closer, and that’s the only things I’ll be focusing on, really, and see what happens.”

Round Two Scores

126 A Rai (Eng) 65 61,
130 H Park (Kor) 68 62,
132 M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 70 62,
133 M Shin (USA) 66 67,
134 T Fleetwood (Eng) 69 65, A Da Silva (Bra) 70 64, S Hend (Aus) 68 66, J Higginbottom (Aus) 69 65, A Quiros (Esp) 68 66, J Scrivener (Aus) 65 69,
135 D Lipsky (USA) 69 66, A Chesters (Eng) 68 67, J Wang (Kor) 68 67,
136 D Boonma (Tha) 67 69, J Singh Brar (Eng) 66 70, V Perez (Fra) 71 65, Y Liu (Chn) 68 68, K Koivu (Fin) 69 67, M Kinhult (Swe) 72 64, T Jaidee (Tha) 68 68, N Colsaerts (Bel) 68 68,
137 W Ormsby (Aus) 70 67, A Cañizares (Esp) 69 68, S Garcia (Esp) 70 67, N Srithong (Tha) 70 67, S Sharma (Ind) 69 68, D Drysdale (Sco) 68 69, C O’Toole (USA) 69 68, A Sandhu (Ind) 70 67,

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