Michael Campbell was not even in the world’s top 900 only four months ago but he leads the UBS Hong Kong Open at the halfway stage – and does not have world No 1 Rory McIlroy to worry about in an added bonus.
While New Zealand’s former US Open winner shot his lowest round for over six years, a six under par 64, defending champion McIlroy crashed out after four-putting his final green for a 72.
Five days after clinching his European and US Tour money list double with a closing eagle in Singapore, the 23-year-old Northern Irishman played his last seven holes in a shocking six over par to miss by three strokes.
“I just got on a slide and couldn’t stop it,” he said. “Obviously not the week that I wanted.
“I was only four off the lead and thinking I could make a couple more and be right back in contention. Unfortunately it just went the other way.
“I didn’t putt well last week and sort of got away with it. This week was the same, so I think a bit of putting practice is required.
“I think these couple of days off might actually do me good. It’ll give me a chance to rest.”
On nine under Campbell, now 43 and seven years on from his last win, leads by one from Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez, at 48 trying to become the European Tour’s oldest-ever champion, China’s Zhang Lian-wei and Swede Fredrik Andersson Hed.
Campbell missed 17 out of 18 cuts in a nightmare nine-month spell, but came third in Portugal five weeks ago and is back up to 339th in the world.
“I’m just happy to be in a position to have a chance,” he said. “That’s why we play the game. That’s why I didn’t give up.”
Hull’s Richard Finch missed the cut by a stroke after a 69 and must now wait to see if he hangs on to his place inside the top 60 of the money list. Malton’s Simon Dyson is seven shots off the lead after carding a level-par 70.