BMW Masters 2013: Contenders to Watch For Heading into Weekend Action

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BMW Masters 2013: Contenders to Watch For Heading into Weekend Action
(Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

The BMW Masters will continue this weekend from Lake Malaren Golf Club in Shanghai as a handful of the sport's best look to put their stamps on the 2013 European Tour campaign. 

Up-and-coming American Luke Guthrie leads comfortably after 36 holes, but he will face a stiff challenge from a dangerous field on Saturday and Sunday. With threats like Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and others all within striking distance, the tournament is far from over.

Below, we'll take a closer look at three contenders worth watching over the final two rounds in Shanghai this weekend. 

*Scores through Round 2 courtesy of EuropeanTour.com

 

Luke Guthrie, -8

/Getty Images

Young American Luke Guthrie won't admit it, but he has to be frustrated that he's only up by four strokes heading into the final 36 holes at the 2013 BMW Masters.

Although he started fast with a seven-under 65 on Thursday, the 23-year-old struggled with the wind and couldn't get out of his own way at times in Round 2, following up two of his five birdies with a bogey en route to settling for a one-under 71.

Thanks to his impressive first-round performance, Guthrie will have more room for error than any other player this weekend, which will allow him to take more risks. That freedom could be key for him in earning his first-ever European Tour victory. 

 

Ricardo Gonzalez, -4

/Getty Images

Under-the-radar Argentine Ricardo Gonzalez is one of six players who are four strokes off the lead and tied for second coming into Saturday's third round.

The 44-year-old, who has won four tournaments on the European Tour since 2001, bounced back from a difficult opening round to shoot a five-under 67 in Friday's second round. Gonzalez's scorching round was the best of any competitor in Round 2, and had it not been for a bogey on No. 18, he would be entering Saturday in sole possession of second place on the leaderboard.

Despite his late stumble, Gonzalez's overall performance on Friday has to have him feeling extremely confident heading into the weekend. 

If Gonzalez wins this tournament, it'll be because of his ability to avoid mistakes. He has seven birdies to just two bogeys through 36 holes.

 

Rory McIlroy, -1

/Getty Images

Although he's seven shots off the lead coming into the weekend, Rory McIlroy is still a legitimate threat in Shanghai. The world's sixth-ranked player has won five times on the European Tour since 2009 and won this event back in 2011.

McIlroy may be struggling this season, but he understands the course at Lake Malaren and has done a decent job at creating birdie opportunities for himself through the early rounds. 

If he can improve his play on the back nine, continue to dominate Nos. 7 and 15 and get a little help from Guthrie and the players at the top of the leaderboard, he'll have a shot to narrow the gap and make his way into contention this weekend.

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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