Friday, July 18, 2014




Rory McIlroy exorcised his Friday demons in style to claim a four-shot halfway lead at Royal Liverpool in the second round of The 143rd Open Championship.
The former World Number One carded a second consecutive 66 to finish the first half of the 72-hole tournament 12 under par.

McIlroy has made an unfortunate habit of following good rounds on Thursday with bad ones on Friday in 2014, the latest example being scores of 64 and 78 in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open last week. 

A similar sequence at the Memorial at Muirfield Village even had tournament host Jack Nicklaus asking 'How the hell can you shoot 63 and then 78?'
In total he was 50 under par in the first round and nine over par in the second until carding seven birdies and just one bogey on Friday to boost his chances of becoming only the third player in the modern era - after Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus - to win three Majors by the age of 25.

It is the first time McIlroy has led at halfway in a Major since the 2011 US Open, when he went on to win his first of the game’s elite events by eight shots after rewriting the record books at Congressional.

And by getting the benefit of the best conditions with early-late tee times it made amends for leading The 2010 Open at St Andrews with an opening 63 only to follow it with an 80 in atrocious weather.

McIlroy could have been forgiven for fearing the worst when he bogeyed the first hole after overshooting the green, but with the wind dropping he regained the lead with a two-putt birdie on the fifth and moved two ahead with another gain on the sixth.

Even the distraction of a pheasant wandering across the eighth green as he lined up another birdie putt failed to prevent McIlroy from picking up another shot, while he also birdied the tenth before surprisingly missing from four feet on the 11th.

The Northern Irishman did then hole from that distance on the 15th after a superb tee shot and a drive of almost 400 yards on the 17th set up another, while he pitched to four feet on the last to end in style.

"I just feel like I have an inner peace on the golf course. I'm very comfortable in this position, doing what I'm doing right now," said McIlroy.
"It's hard to describe. I wish I could get into it more often. If I'm able to do it a few times a year, that's nice.

"It's a combination of confidence, just being mentally strong, mentally aware of everything, but I think it all comes down to if you're confident with your game and you're in control of your ball out there it makes things a lot easier.

"I just take it as I feel it. I've got a couple of little trigger words that I'm using this week that I keep telling myself in my head when I'm just about to hit it, go into a shot.

"That's as complex as it gets in my head. People call it the zone; it's just a state of mind where you think clearly.

"It's nice to go out and shoot a good one today so I don't have to be asked about it (his second round syndrome) again until I might shoot a good score at Akron (the WGC Bridgestone Invitational) and then people are asking me on Thursday afternoon.

"It's understandable. My second rounds this year have been terrible and there isn't really any explanation but hopefully I put it to bed today."

Elsewhere Tiger Woods almost paid the ultimate price for abandoning the tactics which previously brought him victory at Hoylake.
Woods famously used his driver just once in 72 holes on his way to a third Open title in 2006 and was similarly circumspect in an opening 69 on Thursday.
However, wayward drives on the first two holes and an even worse one out of bounds on the 17th meant the 14-time Major winner had to birdie the 18th - his only birdie of the day - just to be sure of making the halfway cut.
Woods missed the cut on his return from back surgery in the Quicken Loans National last month and holing from six feet on the last means he has still to make early exits from consecutive events in his professional career. 

The 38 year old's last round in a Major Championship without a birdie had come on the opening day of the 2010 US Open.
A round of 77 left Woods 14 shots adrift of McIlroy with another American, Dustin Johnson, the Northern Irishman’s nearest challenger on eight under following a 65.
Ryder Cup team-mates Sergio Garcia and Francesco Molinari, South African Major winners Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel and Americans Ryan Moore and Rickie Fowler are in a high-quality group tied for third on six under.

There will be no Silver Medal for the leading amateur this year for the simple reason that no amateur has survived the 36-hole cut.
British amateur champion Bradley Neil (Blairgowrie) shot 155 with rounds of 79 and 76.

Par 144 (2x72)
132 Rory McIlroy (N Ireland) 66 66
136 Dustin Johnson (USA) 71 65
138 Francesco Molinari (Italy) 68 70, Ryan Moore (USA) 70 68, Rickie Fowler (USA) 69 69, Sergio Garcia (Spain) 68 70, Charl Schwartzel (S Africa) 71 67, Louis Oosthuizen (S Africa) 70 68
139 George Coetzee (S Africa) 70 68, Jim Furyk (USA) 68 71, Marc Warren (Scotland) 71 68
140 Robert Karlsson (sweden) 69 71, Jimmy Walker (USA) 69 71, Victor Dubuisson (France) 74 66
141 Adam Scott (Australia) 68 73 (T15)
142 Justin Rose (England) 72 70 , Matteo Manassero (Italy) 67 75, Stephen Gallacher (Scotland) 70 72 (T19)
143 Graeme McDowell (N Ireland) 74 69 (T240
144 Phil Mickelson (USA 74 70 (T31)
146 Jamie McLeary (Scotland) 73 73, Tiger Woods (USA) 69 77, Luke Donald (England) 73 73 (T56)

147 Lee Westwood (England) 71 76, Ian Poulter (England) 73 74
149 Paul McKechnie (Scotland) 78 71
154 Scott Jamieson (Scotland) 77 77, Paul Lawrie (Scotland) 79 75
155 Bradley Neil (Scotland) (am) 79 76
166 Sandy Lyle (Scotland) 82 84



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