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Shane Lowry remains in hunt as Louis Oosthuizen leads the WGC in China

Updated: Friday, 02 Nov 2012 15:21 | Comments

Shane Lowry is in third place after two rounds at China WGC Lowry looking very relaxed with caddie Dermot Byrne enjoying the Chinese sunshine
Shane Lowry is in third place after two rounds at China WGC Lowry looking very relaxed with caddie Dermot Byrne enjoying the Chinese sunshine

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Shane Lowry remains in contention at the mid-way point of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China after shooting four under to enjoy a share of third place.

The Offaly man, who has hit a rich vein of form in recent weeks, winning in Portugal and finishing in the top five last week in Shanghai sits six shots off new leader Louis Oosthuizen.

South African Oosthuizen turned on the style again to take a five-shot lead into the weekend following an exceptional nine-under-par 63 at the Mission Hills track to move to 16 under.

The 30-year-old, winner of The Open by a massive seven-stroke margin two years ago, was five clear of compatriot Ernie Els and Australian Adam Scott who sit one shot clear of Lowry and US Ryder Cup star Jason Duffner.

Graeme McDowell shot a disappointing three over par 75 to sit two over going into Saturday’s third round in a share for 56th.

There is no cut at the WGC event so all 78 players will tee off on Saturday including last placed Kenichi Kuboya from Japan who is the polar opposite of leader Oosthuizen on 16 over par.

"What's not to enjoy? I'm playing a World Golf Championship and I'm up there in the top five." - Lowry

Lowry said: "I didn't birdie two easy par-fives and made a bad bogey on the sixth, but other than that I played lovely all day and gave myself a lot of chances.

"What's not to enjoy? I'm playing a World Golf Championship and I'm up there in the top five going into the weekend."

Luke Donald is two further back and Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and defending champion Martin Kaymer all seven under with Hanson.

Justin Rose, also with a chance to head the European Tour money list with a win, will resume down on two under, good enough only for a share of 31st spot.

"I'm in a great position to win, but it's not even crossed my mind at the moment," Oosthuizen said after his course record equalling 63.

"There's still a lot of golf to be played. I need to put myself in a great position going down the back nine on Sunday."

As for the European Tour money list race, the absent Rory McIlroy is an even stronger favourite after Ryder Cup team-mate Peter Hanson double-bogeyed the 12th and bogeyed the 14th for a 71 that dropped him from joint third into a tie for 12th.

Having beaten McIlroy in Shanghai last Sunday, Swede Hanson needed to win again to go past the world number one with three weeks left, but he now has nine strokes to make up.

Oosthuizen and Els have the chance to go second on the table this weekend, but Els is playing only his 10th Tour event of the season and unless he changes plans his name will be removed from the list for not meeting the 13-tournament minimum.

The 43-year-old has yet to have a bogey this week on his return from an ankle injury suffered when treading on a tennis ball during some time off, but Oosthuizen, a product of Els' foundation like Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace, is not going to be easy to catch.

"He's playing great obviously," Els said. "But there's trouble out there - if you get a little wayward you can pay the penalty. We've seen that."

Masters champion Bubba Watson, for instance, put two balls in the water for a triple-bogey eight at the 15th - he was lying seventh at the time - and Japanese back marker Kuboya took 10 there in a horrific back-nine 49.

After making birdies at each of the five par-fives on the opening day, Oosthuizen went even better on his return to the Jose Maria Olazabal-designed lay-out.

He birdied four of them again and sank a long eagle putt at the 566-yard seventh as well as picking up four other birdies.

"I started off a bit shaky with a bogey on the second, but immediately made birdie and was putting really well," Oosthuizen added.

"I gave myself a lot of opportunities for birdie and if you make the putts you shoot a low number."

Scott, still to win since his Open nightmare, said: "I'm pretty happy with 68. It wasn't my best stuff out there, but five shots is a lot when you've got a guy like Louis out in front."

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