'Come on Rory lad!' cheers return as McIlory surges with 68 Friday

Rory McIlroy-Putting AP Photo/Peter Morrison

'Come on Rory lad!' cheers return as McIlory surges with 68 Friday

Professional

'Come on Rory lad!' cheers return as McIlory surges with 68 Friday

SOUTHPORT, England – Rory McIlroy didn’t need a pep talk from caddie JP Fitzgerald in the second round of the 146th Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.

The world number four seems to have rediscovered his game over the last 27 holes after consecutive missed cuts that seriously dented his confidence on the eve of the championship.

McIlroy returned a 2-under-par 68 in strong, gusting winds thanks to a better front nine than yesterday to give himself a chance of winning the old claret jug for a second time.

McIlory, 28, stands at one under for the championship. He was within four shots of the lead when he finished his round.

McIlroy played Royal Birkdale’s front nine in 39 shots Thursday – hence the reason for Fitzgerald’s team talk – he was eight shots better today to move up the leaderboard.

Rory McIlroy-British Open

Rory McIlroy did not need any pep talks on Friday at Royal Birkdale. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

“I got off to a good start, which I think was important today,” McIlroy said. “The back nine is playing really, really difficult. So to birdie three of the first six and give myself that little bit of a cushion to play with was nice.”

The galleries around Royal Birkdale were packed for McIlroy’s 9:47am three-ball with Dustin Johnson and Charl Schwartzel.

Johnson posted a 2-over-par 72 to stand at three over for the tournament. Schwartzel got off to a good start but double bogeyed the fifth hole and seemed to throw in the towel. He said the “luck” of the wind determined his 6-over-par 78.

Rory decided to use the wind rather than give up the fight like Schwartzel.

“When the wind is this strong you just have to go with it,” McIlory admitted. “It’s so hard to work against it. I was trying to keep the ball down a little bit. The 12th hole today was playing 162 yards. I hit a 5-iron and it came up short. That’s how windy it is out there. It’s tough to pick a club and commit to it.”

McIlroy made a good par save at the eighth hole yesterday that helped save his round. He made three key up and downs at holes 10, 11 and 12 today to hold his round together.

“They’re the putts that haven’t quite been going in over the past few weeks. That’s all it takes to keep a round going.

“That stretch – 10, 11 and 12 – just to keep the momentum going and keep the round going, they were all huge.”

Shouts of “Come on Rory lad!” rang out amid the Birkdale dunes, with masses heading for the exits after Rory’s three ball had finished. That was partly to do with the strong winds and heavy rains gathering for the afternoon starters, but also a clear sign of the crowd favourite this week.

The luck of the draw plays a key part in who wins the Open Championship. McIlroy didn’t luck out at Royal Troon last year and got the worst of the weather. The golf gods might be smiling on him this week. He finished his round before the worst of the weather was set to trouble the afternoon starters.

After two straight missed cuts in the Irish and Scottish Opens, McIlroy has a chance to win his fifth major championship.

“To be in after two days and be under-par for this championship after the way I started, I’m ecstatic with that.”

So are thousands of British golf fans keen to see McIlroy add to his 2014 win just down the road at Royal Liverpool.

Expect the “Come on Rory lad” roars to get louder over the weekend.

Latest

More Golfweek
Home