McIlroy among Royal Aberdeen's victims Friday

Rory McIlroy during Friday's second round of the European Tour's Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen.
Rory McIlroy during Friday's second round of the European Tour's Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen. ( Getty Images )

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Balgownie Course at Royal Aberdeen clearly took offense to Thursday’s low scoring and exacted its revenge on some of the best players in the world in Friday’s second round of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.

The victims were some of the best players in the world, who won’t be in Aberdeen during the weekend.

They included Ian Poulter, Louis Oosthuizen and Lee Westwood.

But two of the field who made the cut were maybe the most shell-shocked when they added up their scores: first-round leader Rory McIlroy and Scotland’s own Russell Knox.

For McIlroy it was a tale of two 18s; Thursday, McIlroy shot a course record 7-under 64 that included eight birdies and a lone bogey.

Friday, it was like the Dickens novel A Tale of Two Cities, with McIlroy recording a double bogey, six bogeys and a par for a 7-over 78.

“I mean I'd be much happier standing here after shooting a couple of 71s, but that's not the case,” McIlroy said. “It hasn't been the case all year. I've got off to great starts and just fell away. “

Sitting T-35, the Northern Irishman is eight shots off the lead of Ricardo Gonzalez, but still believes he has a chance.

For Knox, he has experienced links golf more that most in the field – having grown up in Scotland. But that didn’t help him on the back nine Friday.

After two eagles and a birdie during the first eight holes, Knox stood on the ninth green tied for the lead at 8 under.

But the next 10 holes would see only one par, three double bogeys, three bogeys and two birdies for a 74 – finishing exactly where McIlroy stands at even par.

“It was a bizarre finish,” Knox said of playing the last six holes in 8 over par. “I didn't feel bad, I didn't feel panicked. I felt pretty normal, just it was tough, and I was just a little off and got punished heavily a couple times.”

Both McIlroy and Knox seemed to catch the worst of it scoring wise, seeing their hard-fought leadership diminished in just a few holes.

That is what Royal Aberdeen can do: You have to take advantage when you can and then hold on for dear life.

“You're under pressure on the way out to make a score and then you're under pressure on the way home to hang onto it,” Padraig Harrington said of Royal Aberdeen. “God help you if you turn like level par or something because you ain't getting it back.”