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Guthrie leads by 4 as Daly fades at BMW Masters

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Amid blustery conditions in Shanghai, John Daly was unable to replicate his surprising opening-round form as he makes his first return to competition in more than three months following elbow surgery.

Despite a 2-over 74 at Lake Malaren – the highest score Friday of any player inside the top 18 of the overall standings – the two-time major champion still finds himself in contention, tied for ninth at 2-under 142 and six shots behind leader Luke Guthrie through 36 holes at the BMW Masters.

Following his bogey-free 68 Thursday, Daly struggled to get things going in the second round and did not record his first birdie of the day until the 13th hole, which proved to be the start of a tumultuous finish to his round. The 47-year-old added birdies at Nos. 15 and 17, but also bogeyed holes 14 and 18 while recording a double-bogey 6 on the 16th hole. It all added up to an outward nine of 1-over 37 that left him two shots out of a large tie for second place in his first competitive start since withdrawing from The Greenbrier Classic in July.

Beginning the day with a two-shot lead, Guthrie maintained his momentum thanks to five birdies during his second-round en route to a 1-under 71. At 8-under 136, the 23-year-old holds a four-shot advantage over six players as he looks to capture his first European Tour title.

Among those closest to Guthrie at the halfway point are Englishmen Paul Casey and Simon Dyson, who both began their week in China with back-to-back rounds of 2-under 70, and Argentine Ricardo Gonzalez, whose 5-under 67 was the lowest round of the day Friday. Several top-ranked players are lurking in a tie for 12th at 1 under, eight shots off the pace, including Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter.