American Luke Guthrie takes a four-shot lead into the weekend at the BMW Masters in Shanghai, after an up-and-down 1-under par 71 took him to -8, while Paul Casey headlines a group of six players in second place on 4-under par. My prediction that John Daly would start brightly fade and then fade badly was largely right: two bogeys and a double bogey in the last five holes gave him a 2-over-par 74, to put him tied for 9th on 2-under par. But Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter are among those lurking on 1-under-par and it should be a good weekend.
Good news was in limited supply for China on a windy day at Lake Malaren Golf Club: none of the 13 Chinese players in the tournament broke par, and Hu Mu is the top domestic representative in T39th on +4. A sole bright spot for China (*STRAW CLUTCHING ALERT*) came at the tough 9th hole, where Zhang Lianwei – the first Chinese golfer to win on the European Tour – and recent Nike signing Zhang Xinjun accounted for two of the three birdies registered at the hole on Friday.
One story of note from Thursday’s opening round: injured Dutchman Joost Luiten teed off on the first hole and then immediately withdrew in order to keep his entry into the Race to Dubai alive – a new rule states that players must play in two of the three events preceding Dubai (Shanghai x 2, Turkey), so Luiten eased his ball 120 yards down the middle with every intention of walking straight off afterwards. Pity poor Justin Walters, the first reserve, who had travelled to Shanghai in the hope of playing and was heard to say “I can’t watch this” as he realized what was happening.
Elsewhere in China, the northeastern city of Longkou is hosting this year’s Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, the tournament from which Guan Tianlang qualified for the Masters. Guan, who turned 15 on Friday, is six shots off the lead after two rounds, while first-round leader Dou Zecheng, 16, is just one shot behind leaders Shohei Hasegawa of Japan and Lee Chang-woo of South Korea, who stand at even-par after a cool and windy day in Shandong province. Pan Cheng-tsung, profiled in these pages earlier this year and runner-up in this event last year, is tied for 7th, three shots off the lead.