Hanson leads McIlroy by 2 at BMW Masters
SHANGHAI — Peter Hanson of Sweden shot an 8-under 64 to take a two-stroke lead on defending champion Rory McIlroy after the second round of the BMW Masters on Friday.
McIlroy shot a 7-under 65 in a round that included seven birdies to put him at 12-under 132. Hanson's countryman Robert Karlsson also shot a 64 to move another three strokes back at Lake Malaren.
A group of four including Ireland's Shane Lowry (64), Justin Rose (68), Sweden's Alexander Noren (68), and first-round leader Welshman Jamie Donaldson (74) were at 136.
McIlroy's fifth round of 65 this season was capped by three birdies in succession from the 13th hole.
"When I did need to make a par here or there, I was able to save those, and I'm in a great position going into the weekend," he said.
McIlroy hasn't won a regular European Tour event since last year's Hong Kong Open. Of his four wins this year, all in the U.S., only the PGA Championship has counted toward the European Tour money list. Yet McIlroy leads the list, and was four shots clear of Rose, his nearest rival in the Race to Dubai.
"It looks quite routine at the moment," McIlroy said. "The more you put yourself in this position, the more comfortable you become with it. I like the fact that most weeks I tee it up, I can get myself in contention.
"This is just another one of those weeks, and I'll try and continue that for as long as I can."
However, Hanson also said he was relaxed about his form and game.
Winning his fifth tour title at the KLM Open and his second straight Ryder Cup have imbued in him a high comfort level.
"The biggest difference in my career compared to earlier times, is that I am playing better in the bigger events like the majors and the World Golf Championships that has helped my confidence quite a lot," Hanson said.
"Also, being a part of the Ryder Cup team, and being high up the world rankings, you feel you maybe belong a bit more competing alongside the best players."
Hanson bogeyed his opening hole but quickly rebounded to enjoy a run of nine birdies in a 13-hole span.
"It's amazing how many good rounds can start with a bogey," he said. "The key to my good two rounds is that I've birdied all the par-5s which can help dramatically around this place."
Hanson matched his lowest score on the tour for the eighth time.
Karlsson seeks to end a near two-year winless drought since capturing the season-ending 2010 Dubai World Championship.
However, the Monaco-based Swede admitted he's also concerned with retaining his U.S. PGA Tour card for 2013. He was 158th on the PGA money list and needs to be 125th by the end of the season, which was why he's entered next week's tour finale at Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
He wants to avoid tour school, which clashes with the European finale in Dubai, but doesn't think he can get around it.
"At the end of the day I am in a very fortunate position as I have another year of exemption for the European Tour," he said.
"There are a lot of players in a lot worse situation than I am, so I am not complaining. I haven't had a good year and you have to accept the consequences. So a good result this week, and what with the huge world ranking points on offer, will help with the confidence to put together some decent rounds."