Golf: In-form McIlroy fires 63 to charge into Crans-Montana contention

McIlroy in action during the second round of the European Masters golf tournament.
McIlroy in action during the second round of the European Masters golf tournament.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

CRANS-MONTANA, Switzerland (AFP) - Rory McIlroy continued his excellent recent form by firing a seven-under-par 63 in the second round of the European Masters on Friday (Aug 30) to move one shot behind halfway leader Gavin Green in Switzerland.

The four-time major champion, who won the PGA Tour's Tour Championship and the US$15 million (S$20 million) FedEx Cup prize last weekend, made three bogeys in his first 12 holes, but stormed home with a four-hole run of three birdies and an eagle.

"Even if I do make a bogey, I'm having a good time here and enjoying myself," the world number two told Sky Sports.

"That's probably why I finished like I did there, despite dropping three shots in my opening 12 holes."

The Northern Irishman came agonisingly close to lifting his maiden European Tour title at Crans-Montana as a 19-year-old in 2008, but missed a short par putt for victory before losing to unheralded Frenchman Jeff Lucquin in a playoff.

McIlroy is tied with four other players on 10-under overall just behind Green on a strong leaderboard.

"I'm excited. It's good, I've given myself another chance to win," said McIlroy.

"It would have been easy for me to take my foot off the gas after last week. I've given myself a good chance to win this tournament, which I've come close to winning before."

Malaysian Green followed up his opening-round 65 with a 64 on Friday to boost his hopes of a first European Tour success.

The world number 209 sits just one stroke ahead of a group of five - McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Andres Romero, Matthias Schwab and Wade Ormsby.

Green said he was comfortable playing at 1,500m altitude due to his experience as a student in the United States.

"The altitude is similar to where I went to university in New Mexico, Albuquerque, it's a few thousand feet too. I'm pretty used to how altitude works," he said.

The 13th-ranked Fleetwood also played the Tour Championship at East Lake last week, and has recorded successive 65s at Crans-Montana.

The popular Englishman was bogey-free for his second round, rolling in an eagle on the par-five 15th.

"Of course it's difficult. Nothing in life is supposed to come easy," said Fleetwood, who is yet to win this year.

"It's just nice to keep putting myself in positions and hopefully I'll start winning more. Maybe that will start this week."