Rory McIlroy was not having things all his own way early in the second round of the Omega European Masters as he continued his bid to become the third youngest winner in European Tour history.
Three clear at eight under par after his superb opening round of 63, the 19 year old Northern Irishman stretched his lead to four with an opening birdie.
After a bogey on the fourth McIlroy did chip in for another birdie at the short eighth to get back to nine under par, but bogeys at the 11th and 13th moved him to seven under through 13, while defending champion Brett Rumford has picked up the pace and improved to nine under with five to play.
The Australian birdied three of his first five holes and covered the back nine in 32 to go seven under, before picking up shots at the first and third.
Only South African Dale Hayes and Spanish star Seve Ballesteros tasted success on the circuit at a younger age than McIlroy, though McIlroy would be only five days older than Ballesteros was when he captured the 1976 Dutch Open.
Spain's Alejandro Canizares is tied with McIlroy on seven under - he has collected three shots in his first nine holes - while Scott Barr, title favourite Miguel Angel Jimenez, and Peter Lawrie are at six under.
McIlroy's opening 63 had been the lowest score of his professional career by three, but two more than the lowest round of his life, an almost unbelievable 61 at Royal Portrush.
After finishing third and fourth in his first month in the paid ranks last October, McIlroy is 89th place on this season's European Order of Merit so far.
But he was speaking on Wednesday about how he was happy with his swing and was just waiting for things to click into place.
"Of course it's been a bit disappointing given the way I started, but if you'd asked me when I was at the Walker Cup last September I'd have taken this," he said.
"I got my card last year without having to go to the qualifying school and I've already earned enough this season to keep my card.
"I've just got to stay patient. I'm hitting it as well as I have all year and if I keep improving like I am I know that in six years' time I'm going to be a pretty good player."
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