TIANJIN, China (AP) — Mikko Ilonen of Finland equaled the course record with a 9-under-par 63 to take a three-shot lead after two rounds of the China Open on Friday.
Another record-setter, 12-year-old amateur Ye Wocheng, missed the cut at 14 over, but Chinese compatriot Dou Zecheng became the youngest at 16 to make the tournament cut with a 2-under-par total.
A day after becoming the youngest player on the European Tour, Ye was headed back to his Dongguan school with a pair of 79s. But the disappointment among local fans was offset by the achievement of Dou, the amateur who was two above the cutline with scores of 70 and 72.
"I am happy with my scores, and feel excited to make the cut, so I will enjoy my game through the weekend," said Dou, who plans to travel to America and attempt to qualify this month for the U. S. Open. "I am not thinking too much about my score, just try my best, and get some more experience."
Ilonen birdied four of his closing five holes in a 12-under tally to move clear of Australia's Brett Rumford and Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who recorded 67s to be tied for second.
Ilonen matched the Binhai Lake course record set last year by Sweden's Alexander Noren, and equaled his lowest round having shot successive 63s en route to finishing second in the 2009 Madrid Masters.
The Finn was on target to succeed on the European Tour for a third time in his career, since winning twice in 2007.
"My ball-striking was a bit better than yesterday and I gave myself a lot more chances," he said. "It's definitely a good number of birdies especially on the later nine as I felt really good with the putter. My score is as good as it gets but then my ball-striking has been better in other tournaments this year.
"It was a very comfortable round and I didn't put myself into trouble, at all. So there was no stress and it made life a bitter. It's also better to be three shots ahead than one."
Rumford, last week's winner of the Ballantine's Championship in South Korea, edged closer to becoming only the third Australian to win consecutive events in the 41-year history of the European Tour. He birdied his closing four holes.
"I feel good, my fitness is good and my energy levels feel nice and high, so hopefully I can ride the wave over the weekend and keep the good feelings going," Rumford said. "It's a nice feeling when you're holing putts and seeing your name up near the top of the leaderboard. You've got to make the most of these moments when they come along."
Kiradech was also in position to win for a second time this year after capturing the Malaysia Open.
First-round leader Robert-Jan Derksen of the Netherlands overcame bogeys at his 10th and 11th holes to birdie three of his last five holes in a round of 70 to be in fourth place on 8 under.
Defending champion Branden Grace of South Africa birdied seven of his closing 10 holes in a 67 to finish on 3 under overall.