Rory McIlroy superbly stamped his intentions with a take notice three-under-par 69 in bright and increasingly windier scoring conditions on day two of The Memorial tournament in Dublin, Ohio.
McIlroy, and contesting the Jack Nicklaus hosted event for an 11th occasion in his career, was off from the 10th tee but was a little askew to start day two of the $12m event being one-over par through five holes and this after a bogey at his second hole, a birdie at the next and then a bogey at his fifth hole.
However, back-to-back birdies at both his sixth and seventh holes, and where McIlroy holed putts of three feet and then landing a 192-yard tee shot to just five feet at his seventh steadied the McIlroy ship.
The four-time major champ then holed a six-footer at the par-3 fourth hole or the 12th of his round that saw McIlroy move to two-under for his round.
McIlroy then brilliantly capped his round in landing a 268-yard second shot at the banana-shaped par-5 fifth hole, and the 14th of his round, to just six feet and he rolled in the eagle ‘3’putt.
“The eagle on 14 was two perfect 5-woods for me today, a 5-wood off the tee and then a 5-wood into the green, and a shot that was slightly back into the wind”, he said.
“When I hit the second 5-wood I felt like I overdrew it a touch but once it got out of the shoot that is down the fairway, and with the wind pretty strong off the left so it brought it back a little for me, and it set-up the eagle putt nicely”.
He then three-putted his 16th, and the par-5 seventh for a par, ahead of dropping a shot at his penultimate hole but then also showed his frustration in leaving a birdie putt right on the edge at the last for a closing par and head to a well-earned lunch sharing third place on five-under.
“The course became a lot trickier as the wind picked-up and it made committing to your shot that much harder”, McIlroy added.
“The greens here are great and I have putted quite nicely here the last couple of days. They were really fast in the practice rounds but after we had all that rain on Wednesday night they were a little slower yesterday but they picked-up speed today.
“I struggled a little bit getting the speed right but with the drier weather predicted over the weekend they are progressively going to get a little faster over the weekend”
McIlroy’s round of 69 matches his official 2021/22 ‘Scoring Average’ of 69 that has the World No. 8 currently leading this specific Tour category.
hane Lowry, who was off the first, completed his round moments ahead of McIlroy in adding a level par 72 and joined his fellow Irishman in the clubhouse then sharing 13th place at three-under.
Lowry could not get the birdie putts to drop early on and, in fact, was one-over through his outward half in dropping a shot at the sixth.
The Clara golfer, and one of the most consistent competing this PGA Tour season but without a victory, then dropped a second shot of his day at the 10th before getting off the bogey train with birdies at the 12th and 14th holes, only to bogey the 15th but then landing a 207-yard second shot at the par-4 17th to some 20-feet right of the flag and delighted to see his birdie putt drop.
Seamus Power teed-off in the second round just as McIlroy was entering the scorer’s hut and lying in a share of 48th place at level par.
American Denny McCarthy was the early second round leader adding a 69 to his opening score of 68, and edged a shot clear at seven-under-par and also the only player to shoot two rounds in the 60s.
Fellow American and 25-year-old Davis Riley, who already enjoys six top-10s in his rookie season, is in second place posting a 71 and moving to six-under.