Thomas Bjorn shot a 4-under 67 Saturday to take a two-stroke lead after the second round at the rain-delayed Singapore Open.
Torrential downpours prevented half the field from even taking to the course to start the second round on Friday. The third round was to begin later Saturday.
Bjorn was at 9-under 133 overall, ahead of South Africa’s George Coetzee, who reeled off five straight birdies to post the low round of the day at 63, and England’s Chris Wood (65) at 7 under.
Francesco Molinari (67) was one stroke back at 6 under, while three-time champion Adam Scott (66) and overnight joint leader Simon Dyson (68) shared fifth at 5 under. Rory McIlroy was at 2 under after carding a 70 on Saturday.
Four-time major winner Phil Mickelson barely made the cut after making a birdie on the 18th hole to salvage a 70.
Stormy weather has caused havoc with the schedule for the second straight year. Last year rain forced organizers to shorten the tournament to 54 holes and a playoff to decide the winner still had to be held on Monday morning.
Bjorn made six birdies to shoot a 66 in the first round Thursday, then had to wait more than 36 hours to start his second round Saturday morning.
The delay didn’t throw off his rhythm as he put together four more birdies — sinking a 20-foot putt on the par-3 14th for the last — in a bogey-free round.
”This course can very quickly bite you, especially if you don’t drive the ball well. The numbers can run up on this golf course, so you got to stay with what you’re doing,” he said. ”I’ve got two good rounds in the bank, but there’s ways to go.”
Coetzee and Wood are in striking distance of their maiden wins on the European Tour. The pair have had 17 top-10 finishes each, but are yet to win a title.
Coetzee had three straight birdies before play was abandoned Friday afternoon, then two more after he restarted his round on Saturday morning.
”When I was standing on ninth tee, I thought to myself, I lipped out on five, six, eight and nine. If I’d made all them it could have been 10 in a row,” he said.
McIlroy was also on a roll Friday before the rain, making birdies on three of his last four holes. He picked up Saturday where he left off with another birdie.
”It’s been a bit of a frustrating few days. Obviously it would be nice to play a nice stretch of golf and not have to stop and start all the time, but that’s just the way it is and I have to deal with it,” he said.
McIlroy is trying to emulate Luke Donald’s 2011 feat of winning both the US PGA Tour and European Tour money titles in the same season.
He’s already clinched the PGA title and can put more distance between himself and the rest of the field in the European money chase here and at next week’s Hong Kong Open. He leads Swede Peter Hanson by about $1 million, but several golfers remain in striking distance heading to Dubai, including Molinari.
McIlroy’s girlfriend, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, has been by his side on the course this week and will travel with him to Hong Kong.
”This is her offseason. This is sort of a chance to take a break, but getting up at 5 a.m. to watch me play golf isn’t exactly my idea of a holiday so hopefully after tomorrow or whenever we’re done we can get a couple of days off,” he said.
Mickelson needed some heroics just to make the cut. He got into trouble on the par-5 7th hole where he had to hit from behind a stand of trees and then from a bunker before two-putting for double bogey to go to 4 over.
He got two strokes back with a couple of birdies on the back nine, then hit a delicate chip shot between two palm trees from the rough to get on the green on the 18th and sank a 6-footer for another birdie.
”It’s a tough course for me to make birdies,” he said. ”I hit the ball really well on the backside to give myself a lot of opportunities, but struggled getting the ball in the hole.”
Troubled two-time major winner John Daly withdrew before play began Saturday, citing fatigue.
Daly, who received a sponsor’s invitation to play in the event, was sitting at 11 over through 1½ rounds.