McIlroy finds himself relegated to the slow lane at BMW

Bernie McGuire

Rory McIlroy (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Bernie McGuire

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Rory McIlroy found himself left in the overtaking lane after a disappointing day with the shortest club in his bag on day two of the BMW Championship in Baltimore.

McIlroy had used both a driver, 3-wood and putter he found in his collection of clubs back home and put them to use with great effect in posting an opening round 64 to be sharing the lead after the opening day on the Caves Valley course.

Sadly, that all changed on day two of the €8m event with McIlroy dropping seven places down the leaderboard after a two-under 70 left him trailing six shots behind American Bryson DeChambeau.

DeChambeau posted two eagles and eight birdies to muscle his way to the at 16-under par though it was agony at the close of round two as DeChambeau stood over a six-footer to shoot a ‘genuine’ 59 on a par-72 layout but with his birdie putt not even hitting the hole.

“A lot of putts went in and a lot of things went right today,” said DeChambeau. “We got a lot of great numbers out of the rough today, and I played my butt off and never thought too much about anything until the last few holes, and I striped a 9-iron on 17, striped a drive, striped a wedge on 18 and just wasn’t able to clutch those putts up.

“But I stroked it pretty well today, and am going to go work on that a little bit and make sure I’m hitting it down my lines for this weekend so I have myself a chance to win this weekend.”

Fellow American Patrick Cantlay posted a 65 to finish on 15-under par. McIlroy ended his round with a regulation par and a two-under par 70 for a 10-under par tally and six shots shy of DeChambeau.

“I just maybe wasn’t quite as committed to my lines,” said McIlroy who recorded 30 putts – five more than on day one.

“I think if anything I rarely start the ball off line. If I don’t make a putt that I feel like I should make, it’s more down to commitment and not — maybe not committing fully to the line that I’ve picked or second-guessing the read or something like that. There was maybe a little more second-guessing going on today than there was yesterday.”

McIlroy headed into day two of the penultimate event of the 2020/21 PGA Tour season in a three-way tie for the lead after his opening 64. It was not long before McIlroy was on the move getting up-and-down from a greenside bunker 40-feet from the flag at the par-5 second hole. Though it was quickly becoming a birdie feast, with McIlroy’s progress checked after a poor drive down the right side of the par-4 fifth hole and walking off with bogey.

McIlroy holed an 18-foot gem for birdie at the sixth and then a six-footer also for birdie at the next, the par-3 seventh. However, in making the turn McIlroy at two-under for his round he was three shots off the lead and that was four shots from the front then after finding a fairway bunker down the right side of the 10th before McIlroy looked skywards with that stare of ‘not again’ on his face in posting a second bogey of his round.

McIlroy parred the next five holes before getting up-and-down for a second time in his round from a greenside bunker, this time at the par-5 16th for only the fourth birdie of his round. He then closed over with a pair of pars and again to his enormous credit he spoke to the waiting media.

“I didn’t get off to quite as good a start as I did yesterday,” he said. “I didn’t build the momentum early on in the round like I had yesterday. I three-putted the fourth hole for par, bogeyed the fifth hole, and I bounced back well after that. But those are really holes that you’re looking to birdie, and to play those two holes in 1-over, I felt like I was always just playing catch-up from there.

“I played okay on the way in, I just wasn’t as efficient with my scoring. I hit the ball — I drove the ball just as well today as I did yesterday, and I gave myself plenty of chances, I just didn’t convert quite as many, and then when I got myself up around the greens like on 11, the drivable par-4, I didn’t get that up-and-down; didn’t get up-and-down on 12 when I got it up around the green, as well. Just those little things that like keep your round going, I just didn’t do those quite as well today.”

Shane Lowry enjoyed a much better day, posting a four-under par 68 with a final hole bogey to move 21 places up the leaderboard to a share of 26th at five-under. Lowry carded five birdies in all but is still projected to fall to 50th on the FedEx table with only the top-30 advancing to the Tour Championship at East Lake.

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