Van de Velde sings praises of McIlroy

Jean Van de Velde became the latest member of the Rory McIlroy fan club after the Frenchman moved into contention for a third European Tour title here.

Van de Velde was paired with McIlroy for the first two rounds of the Madrid Open and, although he outscored the 18-year-old by four shots, was full of praise for the Ulster youngster.

"He was very impressive," said Van de Velde, who carded a second-round 66 for a seven-under-par halfway total of 137, two shots behind joint-leaders Alejandro Canizares and Daniel Vancsik. "He has got all the shots in the bag and he is not scared to play them."

Canizares hit a six-under 66 yesterday to join Vancsik at the top of the leaderboard. They are tied at nine-under, one stroke ahead of Gary Lockerbie on 68.