SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian Greg Chalmers held a one-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Australian Open on Friday but defending champion Rory McIlroy was well-positioned for the weekend in a share of second place.
Chalmers, twice a former winner of his national open, snared his seventh birdie on the last green for a five-under-par 66 to edge ahead of a congested leading pack at five-under for the tournament.
The 41-year-old was not getting too carried away with his early lead, however, with the world number one on his heels after a second 69 and Adam Scott having revived his tournament with a sparkling 66.
“I think it’s very early to be talking about winning given who’s right behind me and who’s playing very well,” he told reporters.
“Very early to be thinking about what’s going to happen on
Northern Irishman McIlroy had an up and down round with an eagle, six birdies and six bogies for a share of second with American Conrad Schindler as well as Australians Adam Crawford and Todd Sinnott on four-under.
“I felt like I had an opportunity today to shoot a good one and put a little bit of space between myself and the rest of the field but it didn’t really turn out that way,” McIlroy said.
“A few too many mistakes and it was pretty tricky out there to be honest. Swirling quite a bit, which made it hard for club selection. Misjudged a few wedged shots and got bogies from those.
“I was happy with how I finished, picked up shots in four of the last five holes and I’m still in a good position heading into tomorrow.”
Overnight leader Jordan Spieth had a day to forget, bogeying two of his first four holes and finishing with a 72 to drop to a share of sixth on three-under with three others.
“It was a struggle, big time struggle,” he said. “I wasn’t hitting it well. If I wasn’t putting well I may have shot 45 on the back nine.”
Scott was in a group of six players sharing ninth on two-under having soared back into contention with a blemish-free 66 that was also fired by an eagle at the 14th.
The 34-year-old former U.S. Masters champion, an early starter, held the course record on the newly-reconfigured layout at The Australian Golf Club for half an hour until Jamie Lovemark completed a round of 65.
“We had a good morning for it, so I had to take advantage just for the sake of getting back in the tournament,” Scott said.
Editing by John O'Brien