Fanling, Hong Kong – Michael Campbell fired a 6-under 64 on Friday and moved one stroke clear of the field after two rounds of the Hong Kong Open.
Campbell finished 36 holes at 9-under-par 131. The former U.S. Open champion has fallen off the map in recent years. He started the season with 10 missed cuts in his first 12 events.
The New Zealander has bounced back of late as this marks the sixth time in his last nine tournaments that he made it to the weekend. Campbell took third place at the Portugal Masters a month ago.
That was his best finish since he ended third at the 2008 British Masters.
"That's why I just stuck at it, just stuck working hard on my game, and I knew that this would happen. I deserve it, really. It's been a gradual build-up over the last three or four months, a few top 15s. Portugal was a great boost to my confidence, and it shows this week," said Campbell, who made just four cuts in 41 starts in the 2009-10.
"You can't buy confidence, you just have to earn it, and I think I've earned it over the last seven years since I haven't won a golf tournament. I have been patient."
Miguel Angel Jimenez posted a 3-under 67 to finish two rounds at 8-under-par 132. He was joined in second place by Fredrik Andersson Hed and Lian-wei Zhang, who both shot 66 on Friday at Hong Kong Golf Club.
Anders Hansen is alone in fifth at minus-7 after posting a 64 in round two. First-round leader Javier Colomo stumbled to a 1-over 71 to dip into a share of sixth. He was joined at 5-under-par 135 by Daisuke Kataoka (67).
World No. 1 and last year's winner Rory McIlroy missed the cut by three strokes after rounds of 73-72.
Campbell, 43, had an up and down start to his round. He birdied the first, but gave that shot right back with a bogey on the second.
The 2005 U.S. Open champion bounced back with a birdie on No. 3. He settled in with three pars in a row.
Campbell started to make his move up the leaderboard with a birdie on the seventh. He made it two in a row as he birdied the eighth as well.
At the ninth, Campbell converted another birdie effort. He capped his run with a fourth straight birdie at the 10th. That spurt gave him a 1-stroke lead over Hansen, who was already finished his round.
Campbell made several key par-saving putts en route to seven pars in a row from the 11th. He closed out his round with an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 18.
"Today was a day where I played great from tee-to-green and holed a few nice putts for pars and birdies. I'm just happy to be in a position to have a chance for the weekend," Campbell stated. "That's why we play the game, that's why I didn't give up."
With the birdie at the last, Campbell reached minus-9 for just the second time this season.
NOTES: Campbell is currently ranked 339th in the world after dropping to No. 910 four months ago ... The last time Campbell shot 64 or better on the European Tour was in November 2007 at the HSBC Champions Tournament, when he shot 64 in the final round ... The cut line fell at 2-over-par 142, with 73 players moving on to the weekend. Among those that missed the cut were former major champions Y.E. Yang, Padraig Harrington and John Daly.