Rory McIlroy Storms Back Into Contention After Terrific Second Round

  • Rory McIlroy Storms Back Into Contention After Terrific Second Round

Rory McIlroy Storms Back Into Contention After Terrific Second Round

Rory McIlroy lived to fight another day at the British Open after recovering from a shocking start to his first round at Royal Birkdale on Thursday to shoot a one-over-par 71.

Two birdies over the final three holes in his second round saw McIlroy edge one ahead of Day at the top of the leaderboard, before a fast finish on Saturday kept him one clear of Bernd Wiesberger.

A vivid description came from Matt Kuchar, the American veteran of 46 previous majors and 2012 Players Championship victor who shared the lead at 5 under with Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth after Thursday.

While the American trio of Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka and Matt Kuchar set the early pace with five-under 65s, McIlroy, the 2017 Open champion who had missed three of his last four cuts heading into the championship, recovered from leaking five shots in his opening six holes to post a battling one-over 71.

Frustratingly he left a 15ft birdie attempt short at the next hole but already looked in far better shape than he had yesterday afternoon when he was five over through six holes and seemingly destined to crash out before his back-nine rally. "I got pretty frustrated through the turn, hitting it into pot bunker after pot bunker and squeaking out pars somehow, but I thought we did a good job after the horn blew".

McIlroy, 28, made the ideal start as he put a chip-and-run to three feet and dropped it in for a birdie on the first.

A bogey-free 66 helped McIlroy to the opening-round lead at Royal Liverpool, before shooting another round of five under on Friday to take a four-shot advantage into the weekend.

"I just hit the wrong club off the tee".

World No 1 Dustin Johnson remained out of sorts with his irons as he carded a 72 to close on three over, while the English quartet of Lee Westwood, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose and Danny Willett all made the halfway cut with nothing to spare on five over par.

If it happens, even if he just climbs back into contention, McIlroy will still be crediting a pep talk and a par saver, two essentials in turning around his opening round. "I saw a lot of better iron shots. And it turned around for me, thankfully", said McIlroy. I was trying to. McIlroy didn't luck out at Royal Troon a year ago and got the worst of the weather.

"They're the putts that haven't quite been going in over the past few weeks", he added. "He tried to remind me who I was, that I had won this tournament before, and he told me not to feel any pressure". At least I know if I strike this way, it's not going to deviate too much.

"It's hard to think "big picture" now, I'm just off the golf course and I'm a little disappointed", he said.

"That stretch - 10, 11 and 12 - just to keep the momentum going and keep the round going, they were all huge".

"I definitely feel like today was an opportunity lost to get right in the mix going into tomorrow", McIlroy said.