Shanghai – Robert Karlsson and Shane Lowry both fired eight birdies in blemish-free 64s on Friday for a share of the clubhouse lead midway through Friday's second round of the BMW Masters at Lake Malaren.
The 43-year-old Swede Karlsson carded a remarkable six birdies from the sixth hole and stood at eight-under after 11 holes, just two off the all-time European Tour record of eight in a row.
After starting quickly with gains at the first two holes Karlsson parred in from the 12th, where he missed a makeable birdie putt, to finish at eight-under par for the round and nine-under for the championship with a sumptuous 64.
A few minutes earlier Ireland's Lowry, who celebrated his first win on the tour in Portugal a fortnight ago, had holed out for a par four on 18 for his 64.
The likeable 25-year-old, who won the Irish Open as an amateur in 2009, admitted he celebrated “a bit too hard” after his maiden pro win at Vilamoura, but was pleased he has carried the momentum of that week through to China.
Lowry, whose own birdie blitz encompassed four straight holes from the 13th, said he never doubted that elusive first win would finally come along, and paid tribute to his caddie Dermot Byrne for his unflinching support.
“Dermot never had any doubts and always said to me, 'this is going to be the best year we've ever had',” Lowry told AFP.
“And to be honest, I didn't believe him. But you know it is the best year I have had.”
Karlsson enjoyed the biggest win of his career at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai in 2010, but has failed to win on the European Tour since.
Currently 75th on the Race to Dubai, the former European number one needs to get into the top 60 to qualify for this year's edition of the season-ending tournament.
He faces the prospect of having to go back to the second stage of qualifying school for his US PGA Tour card if he cannot get into the top 50 in the world or the top 150 on the US money list Ä he is currently ranked 158th Ä by the end of the season, something he is trying to avoid at all costs.
“Of course I want to avoid going to the Tour School but that is not always as easy to achieve,” Karlsson told AFP after his blistering round.
“But at the end of the day I am in a very fortunate position as I have another year of exemption for the European Tour.
“There are a lot of players in a lot worse situation than I am, so I am not complaining. I haven't had a good year and you have to accept the consequences.”
With a $7 million purse up for grabs in Shanghai and a $1.166
million cheque awaiting the winner, a high finish this week would propel him up the standings.
World number one Rory McIlroy, starting the day at five under par, picked up four birdies to reach the turn in 32 and join Karlsson and Lowry on nine-under with the back nine still to play.
Overnight leader Jamie Donaldson, who shot a course record 10-under 62 on Thursday, dropped two shots to be eight under at the turn but his playing partner, Ryder Cup player Peter Hanson, picked up four strokes to lead at 10 under halfway through his round. – Sapa-AFP