Rory McIlroy heads to the final two rounds of the BMW PGA Championship looking to merge into the overtaking lane in the penultimate FedEx Cup event of this PGA Tour season.
McIlroy picked-up 14 places on the leaderboard and moved into a share of 11th place at eight-under par thanks to a fighting second day 67 on the Medinah course in suburban Chicago
The World No. 3, not for a first occasion in recent months, bogeyed his opening hole but then superbly completed his closing dozen holes in six-under par.
McIlroy now trails just four shots behind Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama who cut a swath through the field in posting a nine-under par 63 to lead by a shot at 12-under par.
The American duo of Tony Finau (66) and Patrick Cantlay (67) share second at 11-under.
McIlroy was slow out of the second-round blocks in missing the green back left with his approach shot into the first in taking bogey.
He then began to muscle his way back up the board starting in getting up-and-down for a birdie ‘4’ at the par-5 seventh before cementing his place as a weekend contender in holing an eight-footer at the last in his score of 67.
“It feels as though my good golf is now coming for the weekend,” he said.
“I feel I haven’t had my best stuff over the first few days. I was able to put together a decent round yesterday and fight back today and play the last 12 holes in 6-under par. It’s getting there.”
If there was a turning point in McIlroy’s round he singled out holing his 14-footer for birdie.
“I turned it under par with a nice birdie on 9 and then I played a lot better on the back-9,” he said.
“I hit some better iron shots, converted a few putts. Got it up and down when I needed to. Yeah, it was sort of like a tale of two halves I guess.
“I was stuck in neutral there for a few holes. I think that birdie on seven just got me going a little bit and then especially the birdie on nine.
“The way I played the front-nine, to play it under par I thought was pretty good and then I guess that gives me a little bit of encouragement going into the back-nine
“But I hit better shots. I was a bit more committed to some of the shots I hit. I hit a great 8-iron into 17 there and hit a lovely 9-iron into the last. If I’m going to bed tonight thinking of something that I needed to do better going into the weekend, I just need to think of those two shots.”
Fellow Ulsterman Graeme McDowell arrived at Medinah lying 64th on the FedEx Cup standings and he’s projected to finish at 64 after rounds of 69 and 72 that handed him a share of 40th on three-under par.
McDowell had been 15 places higher on the board and tied with McIlroy after his opening round but just one birdie in his closing 12 holes, compared to McIlroy’s haul of six, saw him slip down the board.
McDowell now requires two very low closing rounds and a top-3 finish if he’s to be assured of breaking into the leading 30 on the FedEx Cup standings and be competing next week in Atlanta.
It is much the same scenario with Shane Lowry who shares last place and tied in 67th place after scores of 72 and 74.
Lowry is seemingly running on the smell of an oily rag in this his second event since capturing golf’s oldest Major a month ago at Royal Portrush.
His second round was a mix of four birdies but also six bogeys including three in succession from Medinah’s 11th hole. He’ll need to force his way into the top-30 to ensure his progression to a first ever Tour Finals for the Clara golfer.
Full scoring HERE