McIlroy ages 10-years as Harrington fights into top-10 in brutal Dunhill conditions

Bernie McGuire
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Rory McIlroy and Harry Diamond at Kingsbarns Golf Links (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

By Bernie McGuire at Kingsbarns Links.

“I’ve just aged 10-years,” joked McIlroy. “It was brutal out there and today being up there with some of the toughest conditions I’ve ever played in.”

Brutal, relentless and maybe bordering on madness but whatever, it’s remarkable the second round of the 21st edition of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship managed to get completed, at all.

Driving rain and gale-force winds lashed all three host courses with rounds at Kingsbarns Links, one of the three venues, taking around six-and-a-half hours to play, and this after an 8.30am shotgun start.

After a glorious scoring day Thursday in picture postcard surrounds and near benign conditions, day two of the $5m event saw just ten players in the now 167-player field break par over the three courses but then, as predicted, less than an hour after play ended at around 3.30pm, the Fife region of Scotland was bathed in glorious sunshine.

England’s Richard Mansell posted an incredible 68 on the Old Course to move two shots clear of the field at 10-under, with Swede Alex Noren adding a 69 at Kingsbarns Links to move into second at eight-under.

Frenchman Romain Langasque, who equalled the Old Course record with a 61, nose-dived under the weight of an 80 to a share of 19th place at three-under.

Former double Dunhill winner Padraig Harrington heads the Irish, adding a round of 71 at Kingsbarns to be sharing 10th place at four-under.

McIlroy went into the second round at four-under, commencing his round from the par-3 eighth hole and probably the easiest on the Kyle Phillips-designed course that opened for play on the Monday of the 2000 Open Championship at nearby St. Andrews. Some six-and-a-half hours later the World No. 2 handed in his scorecard of a three-over 75 to drop back to one-under and tied in 41st heading to an Old Course third round.

“It was brutal out there with today being up there with some of the toughest conditions I’ve ever played in,” said McIlroy.

“It was a long day and near the end I was struggling to grip the club so pleased we got done but then look at it now, the rain has stopped and blue sky is starting to appear.”

McIlroy pared his opening three holes ahead of a first bogey at his fourth hole, the par-4 11th ahead of his risk or reward driver off the tee at the short par-4 14th hole, his seventh of the round where he took a ‘7’.

His drive was well right into gorse bushes and despite the rules official walking with the group remarking they probably found some 10 golf balls, though McIlroy’s was not found in the allocated time.

The triple FedEx Cup champion had to head back to the tee from where he did find the green in regulation but took three putts to get down for a triple-bogey ‘7’.

McIlroy ended his outward nine holes hitting the flagstick with his second shot into the par-5 16th and two-putting for a first birdie. It had taken his group three hours-and-10 minutes to play nine holes.

The driving rain and wind was simply making it near impossible to play your normal game, and the delay continued with McIlroy sitting up against a signage board at the par-4 18th and munching on an energy bar due to another delay.

McIlroy was again in trouble after hitting a wild drive down the 18th or his 11th hole but then pulled-off a great par save that had he and caddy, Harry Diamond smiling as they headed off to a specially constructed catering hut in front of the main Kingsbarns Links clubhouse for a piping hot cup of soup.

But while now a little warmer on the inside, the conditions got decidedly worse with weather forecasters spot-on the weather would deteriorate appreciably, and they did predict around 1pm ish.

McIlroy bogeyed his 12th, managed to birdie his 14th hole and that being the par-5 fourth but gave the shot back, and a sixth dropped shot of his day, at the next.

He birdied the short downhill par-4 sixth hole, playing it as his 17th and ended with a well-earned par at the uphill par-7th.

Jonathan Caldwell was another nose-diving down the board, shooting an 81 on the Old Course in a round that included a highpoint in holing a 20-foot eagle putt for ‘3’ at the par-5 fifth hole he was playing as his second. However, he also had seven bogeys and a horror ‘9’ at the par-4 14th, he was tackling as his 11th, where he sent his second shot over the OOB fence right of the hole

Shane Lowry, who was in the group ahead of McIlroy and starting at two-under, never recovered from a horror opening six holes in doubling the par-5 12th that is one of the signature holes, and playing it as his sixth while he took a ‘7’ to end his opening nine at the par-4 15th.

Lowry’s only joy was birdies at his 13th and 15th holes, and the first and third on the Kingsbarns Links scorecard.’ The pair are tied in 114th spot one five-over par.

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