Leader Scott weathers storm as McIlroy makes his move

SYDNEY, (Reuters) – Overnight leader Adam Scott battled through the Sydney wind and rain for a mixed bag of a round of two-under-par 70 to take a two-stroke lead over Rory McIlroy at the halfway stage of the Australian Open yesterday.

McIlroy, growing in confidence by the round, benefited from easier early conditions to post a nine-birdie 65 and join the world number two at the top of the leaderboard on 10-under before the Australian had even teed off. The U.S Masters champion lit up the Royal Sydney Golf Club with a course record 10-under 62 in bright sunshine on Thursday and initially continued in the same vein by picking up shots at two of his first three holes.

The stiffening wind and driving rain took their toll, though, and five further birdies, three bogeys and one double bogey later, Scott was signing for his second round with the same two-shot cushion.

“It was a tough afternoon, plenty of good stuff in there but made a few mistakes in the tricky conditions,” Scott told reporters.

“At times, it was extremely difficult and I think I held it together pretty well.

“It was going to be a day for hanging in. I made lots of birdies but bogeys were easy to come by if you were just slightly off and probably most scorecards would have looked similar this afternoon.”

World number six McIlroy’s growing confidence at the tail-end of a difficult season was clearly evident in his second round at the Royal Sydney, where he tightened up the putting that had left him seven shots behind Scott overnight.

“As seven-unders go, I think it was a pretty comfortable one. I don’t think I did anything really spectacular out there,” the Northern Irishman said.

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