Former U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell fired a 6-under 64 Friday to take the lead at the UBS Hong Kong Open, continuing a strong stretch of late-season performance for a player who had fallen into obscurity in the years following his career-defining victory.
Ranked 910th in the world as recently as July, Campbell has ascended to 339th largely thanks to a T-3 finish at the Portugal Masters last month. The 64 Friday was his best round on the European Tour in six years, as Campbell completed the first two rounds at the Hong Kong Golf Club at 9-under 131 and leads by one shot over a trio of golfers, including Miguel Angel Jimenez.
'I'm just happy to be in a position to have a chance for the weekend,' Campbell told reporters after his round. 'That's why we play the game, that's why I didn't give up.'
Perhaps more surprising than the name at the top of the leaderboard was the name of a player leaving Hong Kong after missing the 36-hole cut: Rory McIlroy. The top-ranked player in the world shot a 2-over 72 to complete his first two rounds at 5 over, missing the cut by three strokes after four-putting his final hole of the day. McIlroy, who won the event in 2011, will sit out the weekend for only the second time this year on the European Tour, having also missed the cut at the BMW PGA Championship this summer.
Upon learning of McIlroy's early exit, Campbell expressed a sentiment that many players chasing him this weekend will likely share.
'That makes it a lot easier for the rest of the field,' he noted.