Rory McIlroy needs to get into weekend overdrive mode if he’s to overcome a six shot deficit at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club.
McIlroy, the top-ranked player in the field, posted a second straight 67 to be trailing six shots behind the leading threesome of England’s Lee Slattery (64), South African Erik Van Rooyan (64) and Austrian giant Bernd Wiesebeger (61) on the course to the east of Edinburgh.
Wiesberger, 34 was joint runner-up in last week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and set the Renaissance course alight with a dozen birdies including his last five for his lowest Tour round by two shots in 241 events.
“Walking down the last, it was 9-under and had a chance to go to 10 but then I haven’t shot 10-under in a professional event yet, so that was a nice bonus to also birdie the last,” he said.
The Scottish scoring spree on the course next door to Muirfield sees just over 40 players, including McIlroy, within six shots of the lead and with 36 holes to play in the $7m event.
McIlroy continues to exhibit a real ease in his golf along with his demeanour and in his dealings with the golfing media, showing little excitement but then, on the flipside of the coin, also no uneasiness or anxiety.
“Coming here, if someone had said you are going to shoot four 67s, I’d have felt I might have a chance but I might have a chance of a top-20, maybe,” he said.
“The competitor in me wants to get into the mix and have a fast start tomorrow (Saturday) and get right up there.
“Even though one eye is obviously on next week, at the same time I am here right now playing this tournament so why not make a go of it. I’m happy with my game and I haven’t really seen much to worry about.
“I’m driving it well. The 2-iron in the bag has been good. The wedge play has been good. I’ve been much more direct with the wedges. I’ve holed some nice putts and if I continue to play like I have over the weekend, then hopefully I am in with a shout on Sunday.”
And it’s been for two days very much an oasis of calm for McIlroy along the shoreline of the Firth of Forth with the only real sound blast on day two being Welshman Bradley Dredge winning a spanking new BMW for an ace on the par-3 17th in his score of 63.
The Scottish silence will very much give way to Portrush mayhem in less than a week but then McIlroy’s already well-prepared.
“I have my phone on ‘do not disturb’ about 18 hours of the day, but that’s normal for me and not just next week but life in general,” he said.
“I try not to concern myself with anything that is not really my business. I try to do what I need to do and live my own life.
“Life is complicated enough without all the other stuff. Honestly, I have not either thought much or talked much or to people about next week.
“This is the first of a three-week run for me. I’m playing here, The Open and Memphis and I’m just trying to play good golf in those three weeks.”
McIlroy’s also revealed that he’ll be staying ‘local’ next week and not home with mum and dad.
“No, I actually don’t like staying at home as there’s something about it that just doesn’t feel right,” he said.
“One of the reasons I don’t play the Honda Classic any more is that being in your own bed playing in a tournament just doesn’t feel right to me. It is very separate.
“When I’m at home, I’m at home. When I’m on tour, I’m on tour. So, I’ll be staying up there (next week).”
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