Rory McIlroy was walking taller in Memphis, slipping on his scoring boots to birdie two of his closing three holes in a four-under par 66 on day two of the WGC – FedEx St. Jude Invitational.
McIlroy looked decidedly ‘rusty’ during Thursday’s opening two-over par 72 just four days after going agonisingly close to a Bronze medal in last week’s Olympic Games men’s golf competition.
It was a sharper four-time major winner on day two of the $US10.5m event in grabbing five birdies and dropping just one shot compared to a day earlier when he managed just two birdies but also had two bogeys and a double on the TPC Southwind course.
“Honestly, I played just as good yesterday as I did today,” he said. “Yes, today was a six-shot difference but the difference was I didn’t have my scoring boots on yesterday as I scored horrifically, and just didn’t do anything right in terms of getting in the hole.
“Today was a little better as I holed a couple more putts that lead to a few more birdies.”
And McIlroy’s short game was sharper, revealing he packed a new wedge into his bag heading to round two.
“It is so grainy around the greens so I got the guys at TaylorMade overnight to make me up another wedge that has a different sole and that made a big difference,” he said.
“I struggled so much around the greens on Thursday, so I put the new wedge in the bag and that worked so much better today. So, overall I’m a lot happier today with my scoring and looking forward to the weekend.”
Fellow Irish Olympian Shane Lowry snatched four birdies in his round but sticking out like the proverbial sore thumb is a fifth hole double-bogey when he found trees well left of the hole on route to a one-under 69.
Lowry’s three-under par 36-hole tally leaves him in a tie for 30th overnight, a full 10 shots back of American Harris English who added a 65 to his opening 62 to continue to lead at 13-under par with Ian Poulter (66) in form and just three shots back on 10-under par.
Mexican Abraham Ancer and Australia’s Cameron Smith both matched his first round effort to be the closest challengers, with Smith remarkably recording just 18 putts in round two t sit in a tie for second on minus-11.
“I’ve been playing really solid,” said English. “When I miss the greens, I feel like my short game’s been on point and I feel like I’m putting it well. Made some good saves for par, good birdie putts. Everything is clicking right now so I feel like my strategy’s been working off the tee; a lot of right to left holes on the three wood, left to right holes I feel I can hit my fade with the driver and it’s been working out.
“It definitely changes a little bit day to day on what feels great. I don’t feel like my ball striking was quite where it was yesterday, but it is what it is. That’s the game of golf, you’ve got to take what it gives you and figure it out on the fly. I feel like I did a good job of that today.”
- Full scoring HERE
Meanwhile, Padraig Harrington fell three points shy of the cut-mark at the Barracuda Championship where Argentinian Emiliano Grillo leads. Harrington was the only Irish player in the field. Full Barracuda scoring HERE