McIlroy troubled by injury as Storm bolts into lead


Rory McIlroy was troubled by a back injury in the second round as Graeme Storm equalled the course record to take a two-shot lead in the South African Open before play was suspended due to the threat of lightning.

Storm started the day three shots behind overnight leaders Keith Horne and Trevor Fisher Jnr, but the Englishman surged to the top of the leaderboard courtesy of a sublime bogey-free nine-under 63 in the event hosted by City of Ekurhuleni.

The world number 251 fell just 100 euros short of retaining his playing privileges last season, but the absence of Patrick Reed in the Final Series gave him a European Tour reprieve.

Storm - who began his round at the 10th - started with three birdies in a row and picked up another shot at 18 before a further five gains on the way home left the 38-year-old, who was red hot with the putter, in a promising position on 12 under heading into the weekend.

McIlroy is five shots off the pace, having started just one shot behind South African duo Horne and Fisher, after signing for a four-under 68 in Gauteng.

The world number two was left to rue a disappointing start and finish to his round on Friday, with a double-bogey six at the fourth and three bogeys hitting his hopes of starting the season on a high note.

Four-time major champion McIlroy revealed there were doubts over whether he would be able to tee off on day two, but the Northern Irishman is hoping the pain will have eased come Saturday.

McIlroy, who eagled the eighth and birdied six of the next seven holes, said: "I'm actually surprised I'm standing here, I actually thought about pulling out before even teeing off today.

"I tweaked my back somehow and the first few shots weren't very comfortable and it still isn't really comfortable. I can't really take a deep breath because I've done something to my upper back. I'm going to go get some treatment now.

"Considering that, I played well, stuck at it and hopefully I can feel better [for round three].

"I don't want to withdraw, it would let a lot of people down so that's why I kept going. As I said, I'm going to get some physio now and hopefully I'll feel better."

Peter Uihlein, Jbe Kruger and Fisher are well poised in a share of second on 10 under, with 45 players still to complete their second rounds in an event that will resume at 7.15am local time on Saturday.