Rory McIlroy played a completely different round of golf to his first but ended up with the same score after a second successive round of 67 moved him to ten-under at the Tour Championship in East Lake.
McIlroy’s bid to make it a hat trick of FedEx Cup titles looks very unlikely after he fell nine shots adrift of Scottie Scheffler who held onto his lead at the summit.
After just four pars in the opening round, the Holywood native had as many pars after four holes of round two, before landing a birdie on the par-5 6th.
Nine successive pars followed for the four-time major champion before two birdies in three holes saw him finish in double figures.
It has been a remarkable 36 holes for the 33-year-old who carded fifteen pars in round two but struggled from tee to green, falling to 24th in strokes gained off the tee and 20th in approach to the green.
McIlroy’s short game has been stellar all week, ranking 4th in strokes gained around the green and putting.
However, his efforts have not been enough to make up ground on Scheffler who looked to be running away with things before Xander Schauffele made it interesting with a birdie, birdie, eagle finish to whittle the gap down from four to two at –17.
Scheffler (-19) carded a four-under 66 and is two clear of Schauffele and six clear of Jon Rahm so it looks set to be a shootout between the pair with the world number one hoping they can feed off each other.
“Yeah, I’m just going to go out there and do my thing and go out and try and play good golf,” said Scheffler.
“Xander obviously has a great track record around here, but paying attention to what other guys do on the golf course has never served me too well.
“To be honest with you, when you’re playing with somebody who is playing good, it’s nice seeing good shots, nice seeing putts go in.”
The Masters champion was pleased with how he played on Friday and is relishing being the man to beat both in the tournament and the world.
“I mean, I’m happy only making one bogey. That was a one-putt bogey, so really at the end of the day it was a pretty good bogey.
“I feel like I’ve given myself a lot of looks; I’ve kept the ball in position for the most part. Had a couple bad swings off the tee today, but other than that given myself a lot of looks, and yeah, playing good.
“Right now I’m on top of the leaderboard, and that stuff can definitely change. For me I’m just going out and trying to play good. I don’t really pay attention to the rankings. I don’t really pay attention to much else.
“For me it’s just trying to stay in a good head space and just go out and play good golf. I think it’s a position I’m comfortable in. I like being in positions where I’m able to win tournaments, and it’s something I’ve grown more comfortable with over time.
“I played well with the lead at the Masters this year, and that was definitely a lot of pressure. This week is definitely a good amount of pressure, as well.
“But I’ve been playing well, and just hoping to do some more of that the next two days,” he added.
The new PIP regulations have ensured that Max Homa’s humorous Twitter exchanges won’t be rewarded so the Wells Fargo champion showed he is more than just a keyboard warrior, firing the lowest score at East Lake in 15 years with a 62.
“I had a goal going into today of what I wanted to shoot for three days,” said Homa. “At some point with the way this format works, I started eight back yesterday to the No. 1 player in the world, so it’s not like the greatest spot to be in.
“However, you could do what you need to do and then at least put pressure on him. So I had my goal in my head of what I was trying to get to, and took care of it today and going to try to take care of it the next two days.
“It’s obviously a tall task. I’m not out here thinking if I just go out there and play perfect I can win. I still would need some luck for Scottie not to play great and then Xander and Cantlay.
“So it’s a tall task, but at some point this week especially you have to just kind of go out and just do your job and see where that gets you.”
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