Paul McGinley admits that Ireland will have to catch fire over the weekend if they are to lift the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in China. The Dubliner and partner Graeme McDowell hit a superb, four-under par 68 in the foursomes to move up to fifth place on 11-under par.
But they now trail Spanish duo Miguel Angel Jimenez and Pablo Larrazabal by six shots after they posted an incredible nine-under par 63 to grab a four-shot lead over Australia and Germany at halfway.
Taking his hat off to the Spaniards, McGinley said: “When world class players catch fire that’s the kind of stuff that happens and nine-under par is very strong.
“They had a great start with a birdie at the second and an eagle at the third and got a bit of momentum.
“You can always make up ground in the fourballs but you are looking at a winning score of around 25 or 30 under par so we are going to have to play very well again tomorrow.”
Spain played the first 11 holes in a staggering nine-under par thanks to seven birdies and an eagle.
Their only mistake came at the 15th, when they dropped a shot, but they birdied the next for a nine under par 63 and a 17 under par total of 127.
That lifted them four clear of first round leaders Germany, after Martin Kaymer and Alex Cejka posted a 69, and Australians Richard Green and Brendan Jones, who shot a 68.
Pre-tournament favourites Sweden finished a shot further back on 12 under par with the United States and Ireland on 11 under at the halfway stage.
Ireland went to the turn in three-under after mixing birdies at the third, fifth, sixth and ninth with a solitary bogey at the fourth.
Playing together in the World Cup for the first time, McGinley and McDowell picked up further shots at the 14th and 15th but bogeyed the par-three 17th to finish the day on 11-under.
McGinley added: “It was a good day, I am very pleased. I thought four-under par was a good score. It might not look like a great score compared to the Spanish but I think any time you shoot four-under par in foursomes is a good day.”
Seeking a fifth World Cup title and their first since 1984, Spain looked certain to break the Argentina’s record low of 61 when they got to nine-under with seven holes to play.
Jiménez said: “I thought at one moment that maybe we can break 60, the way we started. But when those kind of thoughts come at the wrong moment, we stopped the machine.”
In the Sportsbet Australian Masters in Melbourne, Ballyclare’s Gareth Maybin missed the one-over par cut by five shots after a second round 73.
In an event co-sanctioned by the European Tour and the PGA Tour of Australasia, South Africa’s Tim Clark hit a 70 to lead by a shot from Aussies Michael Sim and Anthony Summers on seven-under.
World Cup, leaderboard
127 Spain (Miguel Angel Jimenez, Pablo Larrazabal) 64-63
131 Germany (Martin Kaymer, Alex Cejka) 62-69, Australia (Richard Green, Brendan Jones) 63-68
132 Sweden (Henrik Stenson, Robert Karlsson) 65-67
133 Ireland (Graeme McDowell, Paul McGinley) 65-68, USA (Ben Curtis, Brandt Snedeker) 64-69
134 Japan (Ryuji Imada, Toru Taniguchi) 66-68
135 Canada (Graham Delaet, Wes Heffernan) 64-71
138 Korea (Bae Sang-moon, Kim Hyung-tae) 68-70
139 Finland (Roope Kakko, Mikko Korhonen) 69-70, Philippines (Angelo Que, Mars Pucay) 67-72, India (Jeev Mikha Singh, Jyoti Randhawa) 67-72
140 South Africa (Rory Sabbatini, Richard Sterne) 70-70, Portugal (Tiago Cruz, Ricardo Santos) 67-73, Denmark (Soren Hansen, Anders Hansen) 65-75, New Zealand (Mark Brown, David Smail) 65-75
141 Scotland (Alastair Forsyth, Colin Montgomerie) 68-73
142 Thailand (Prayad Marksaeng, Thongchai Jaidee) 69-73
143 Italy (Francesco Molinari, Edoardo Molinari) 70-73, England (Ian Poulter, Ross Fisher) 69-74, Chinese Taipei (Lin Wen-tang, Lu Wen-teh) 68-75, France (Gregory Havret , Gregory Bourdy) 68-75, Chile (Felipe Aguilar, Mark Tullo) 67-76, Mexico (Daniel De Leon, Osca Serna) 66-77
144 China (Liang Wen-chong, Zhang Lian-wei) 69-75
145 Venezuela (Miguel Martinez, Rual Sanz) 71-74, Guatemala (Pablo Acuna, Alejandro Villavicencio) 69-76
146 Wales (Bradley Dredge, Richard Johnson) 69-77