Flawless Jimenez surges clear of Ryder Cup foes

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The Independent Online

Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez fired a superb six-under-par 64 Friday to take the halfway Hong Kong Open.

The 40-year-old Spaniard, who is chasing his fifth win of the year, showed his class with a bogey-free round at the Hong Kong Golf Club to opened a two-shot lead over Ryder Cup teammate David Howell of England.

Defending champion Padraig Harrington of Ireland battled to a 68 to lie four shots off the pace alongside Alessandro Tadini of Italy and South African Louis Oosthuizen.

Asia's challenge was spearheaded by China's Zhang Lianwei, who also put himself into title contention after firing a 64.

Jimenez turned in an one-under 69 with a birdie on the third, before going on to birdie five of the last seven holes.

"I played really well, very solid all day," said Jimenez, who leads with a two-day aggregate of 11-under-par 129.

"On the first nine, I played well but only made one birdie.

"I try to be myself on the golf course.

I try to hit good shots and enjoy myself.

So I get into that mode and everything looks nice." said the Spaniard, who has had wins in Thailand and China this year.

Howell is looking to wrap up his best career season with victory at the Hong Kong Open, which is co-sanctioned by the European and Asian Tours, and he was set for another bogey free outing Friday before dropping a shot at the par-four 18th when he hooked his tee shot into the trees.

Still, the 29-year-old Englishman was pleased to be in contention.

Harrington missed birdie chances on the 16th and 18th holes as he settled for a two-under round.

"I am not going to worry about it," said the Irishman.