Rory McIlroy put himself back in contention at the 2017 British Open after he shot a two-under 68 in the second round in tough conditions at Royal Birkdale on Friday to enter the weekend at one under overall.
After going five over in the first six holes of his opening round, McIlroy finished well on Thursday to start Friday one over par.
The world No. 4 looked imperious early on the second day as he went out in 31 after birdies at the first, third and sixth. He then battled valiantly against the high winds to post a one-over 37 on the back nine.
It was a very impressive, controlled round from McIlroy, and his fellow competitors will now be wary of a Saturday charge from the 2014 Open champion.
Here is how the leaderboard currently looks at the 2017 Open:
McIlroy, 28, made the perfect start as he put a chip-and-run to three feet and dropped it in for a birdie on the first.
A chance for another three on the second hole stopped just short, but the Northern Irishman picked up another shot on three to go one under as he rolled in an eight-footer.
Per the European Tour, it was a significant improvement on Thursday’s opening three holes:
And it did not stop there. McIlroy looked in the mood, and he left himself a simple putt for his third birdie of the day at six when he stuck his approach to three feet from 180 yards.
Per ESPN’s Jason Sobel, the leaders were suddenly in sight for the four-time major winner:
“Less than 19 hours ago, Rory McIlroy trailed the leaders by 10.
He’s now just three shots back.”
– @Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelESPN)
An impressive up-and-down from a green-side bunker at eight kept the momentum going, and two phenomenal par saves at 10 and 11 in treacherous conditions meant McIlroy stayed at three under for the day.
He finally blinked on the 13th, unable to save par after failing to reach the green in two following a drive into the rough.
An even wilder shot off the tee into the thick grass on the right of the par-five 15th led to another dropped shot. McIlroy was happy to settle for a six in the end, having also battled out of a fairway bunker.
He remained under par for his round, though, a feat achieved by few on a difficult day in Merseyside.
And an excellent four on the par-five 17th, which included a nerveless putt into the heart of the hole from five feet, put him back to one under par for the tournament.
McIlroy closed his round with a fine four on 18 and is now well placed to make a move on the leaders during Saturday’s play.
Source: Bleacher Report
Featured Image: SBS
Inset Image: Sky Sports