|Saudi International second-round leaderboard (Royal Greens G&CC, Saudi Arabia)|
|-10: V Perez (Fra); -9: G Green (Mal); -8: G McDowell (NI); -7: R Pratore (Ita)|
|Selected others: -6: R Fisher (Eng); -5: D Johnson (US), H Stenson (Swe); -4: P Mickelson (US), S Lowry (Ire)|
Graeme McDowell lies third at the midway point of the Saudi International despite his rhythm being “upset” by a warning for slow play that he picked up after doing a mid-round interview.
The Northern Irishman, 40, carded a two-under 68 to sit on eight under, two shots behind leader Victor Perez.
He picked up the ‘bad time’ after his TV interview and a repeat offence over the weekend would see him drop a shot.
“It upset my rhythm for a couple holes,” the ex-Ryder Cup player said.
“Tim Barter is out there interviewing for Sky Sports and he asked me to do an interview walking up the fairway, which I said ‘yes’ to.
“I took an extra few seconds and he [official] gave me a monitoring penalty, which puts me officially on the clock at that point.
“It upset my rhythm for a couple holes. I was trying to play too fast. I was disappointed he didn’t give me a little bit more room for error on the situation, but hey… we’ve got to play faster, simple as that.”
The European Tour’s new slow play rules came into force in 2020 and allow players 40 seconds to play a shot or 50 seconds if they are playing first in their group.
McDowell, seeking a first European Tour win since 2014, birdied the hole after his warning and parred the last three – all of which he had birdied as he shot 64 in the first round in Saudi Arabia.
Frenchman Perez birdied three of the last four for a round of 65 to take the lead. The 27-year-old won his maiden European Tour title at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in September and has finished outside of the top 20 just once since then.
The world number 41 will be paired with his former University of New Mexico room-mate Gavin Green on Saturday.
Malaysia’s Green, who had shared the lead with McDowell after round one, is now second on nine under as he chases a first European Tour win.
England’s Ross Fisher is tied for fifth on six under, while American world number five Dustin Johnson is tied for eighth on five under.