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Chalmers leads Aussie Open; McIlroy a shot back

Greg Chalmers arrived at the Australian Open for his sixth straight week of competition. Since tying for 30th at the Perth International in October, the 41-year-old Australian has played tournaments in Malaysia, Mississippi, Mexico and now two straight weeks back in Australia.

“I don’t feel jet lagged,” Chalmers said. “It’s just my sixth event in a row and I’m trying to conserve my energy.”

At the halfway point at The Australian Golf Club in Sydney, Chalmers has proved he still has some left in the tank. He followed an opening even-par 71 with a second-round 66 Friday and leads by a shot over Rory McIlroy, Conrad Shindler, Adam Crawford and amateur Todd Sinnott.

Chalmers, who sits at 5 under through 36 holes, made seven birdies, including one on his final hole to take sole possession of the lead.

“Ironically, the more birdies I make, it seems to be the more energy I have, so that’s always a good thing,” Chalmers said.

McIlroy, the world’s top-ranked player, has finished runner-up in his last three events, including last week at the European Tour finale in Dubai. On Friday, McIlroy shot a second straight 69, making six birdies, six pars and an eagle.

On the back nine, McIlroy made just one par, at the par-4 10th, before going birdie-bogey-bogey-eagle and then making birdie at Nos. 15, 17 and 18. He bogeyed the 16th.

“I felt like I had an opportunity today to maybe shoot a good one and put a little bit of space between myself and the rest of the field, but it didn’t really pan out that way,” McIlroy said. “I had six birdies and an eagle today. You eliminate the bad stuff and the bogeys and all of a sudden you turn that into a low score.”

First-round leader Jordan Spieth struggled to a second-round 72, making three birdies and four bogeys. He did birdie his final two holes, though, and is two shots back of Chalmers.

“It was a struggle, big-time struggle,” Spieth said. “I wasn’t hitting it well. If I wasn’t putting well I may have shot 45 on the back nine.”

While Spieth slipped, Adam Scott climbed up the leaderboard. After shooting 74 in the opening round, Scott responded with a 66 to move into a tie for ninth at 2 under. Scott went bogey-free and notched an eagle and two birdies on his last five holes of his his front nine. He added a birdie on the front to card the round of the day along with Chalmers.

“Momentum is a big thing,” Scott said. “It’s an incredible different feeling being 2 under than 2 over. I tried to keep that rolling today and I needed to as it was the only chance I had to be in touch with the lead.”

– Information from The Associated Press and PGA Tour of Australasia was used in this report.

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