By Brian Keogh
Re-charged Graeme McDowell surged into contention at the Hong Kong Open as Rory McIlroy missed his first cut as a pro.
Recovered from jet-lag and the shock of almost losing his clubs in transit, McDowell birdied for of the last six for a 66 and a share third place at Fanling.
But he has his work cut out to close a five shot gap on runaway leader Robert Karlsson after the Swede blasted his second sinx under par 64 on the trot to lead by four shots from Miguel Angel Jimenez on 12 under par.
McDowell said: "I played really well today and I stayed patient and made a few birdies down the stretch.
"I really feel good about this course and I like the greens. I don't know why I never came here before but I have to say, I like of things about this golf tournament.
"It is a great city and the tournament has a great feel about it and it is nice to be in the mix."
McDowell knew he had to go low after watching KJ Choi light up the tournament with an eight under par 62.
But the Korean fell back to 12th after a 72 yesterday as McDowell joined nine other players on seven under par.
McDowell said: "With KJ shooting eight under yesterday I had it in my head, let's try and get to seven and not let the leaders get too far in front of us.
"Robert is going well but I am there or thereabouts going into the weekend.
"It has taken me an extra day to settle down because I felt a little sluggish yesterday but I've been going to bed early and getting up early.
"So come tomorrow afternoon I should be fully on Hong Kong time. I am right in the mix."
McIlroy missed his first cut as a professional by four shots after a four over par 74 left him on three over.
Four over par for his first ten holes, he hit back with birdies at the second and third after starting on the back nine.
But he double bogeyed the sixth and made an early exit for the first time in his professional career.
Leader Karlsson used the driver just once as he as he hit six birdies in a second successive bogey-free round.
Karlsson said: "I have understood exactly what I need to do to have a good score around this golf course and then it is up to me to do it. So far I have done well."
Damien McGrane scorched up the leaderboard to tied 20th after a four under par 66 but Gary Murphy crashed to 33rd after a level par 70 that featured an eagle two and a triple bogey eight.
The Kilkenny man was right in the mix when he birdied the 11th and then holed his second shot at the 14th to get to seven under par.
But he undid all his hard work by erasing two further birdies with two bogeys and that eight at the par five third.
Paul McGinley also shot 70 to make the cut on two under par with Ryder Cup captain Nick Faldo a shot further back after a 71 helped him make his first cut on the European Tour since 2005.