Rahm’s roaring round inspires Rory to keep him in touch heading into weekend at CJ Cup

Adam McKendry
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Rory McIlroy (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy admitted Jon Rahm’s sensational second round scoring spurred him on to stay in touch at the top of the leaderboard going into the weekend at the CJ Cup on a fine day for Irish golfers.

The World No.2 – who is not only defending champion but is chasing down a return to the top of the world rankings in South Carolina – signed for a four-under 67 at Congaree to end day two at nine-under-par, a couple of shots behind Spain’s Rahm and American Kurt Kitayama.

Shane Lowry had a 67 of his own to sit a couple more strokes behind McIlroy at seven-under-par, while a two-under 69 moved Seamus Power up to six-under-par for the week.

But it was Rahm who was the most impressive in the second round as a dazzling nine-under 62 moved him into a share of the lead with Kitayama at 11-under-par, and McIlroy conceded he was left trying to cling onto the Spaniard’s coattails.

“I saw he got to nine-under for the tournament through like, I think he was seven(-under) through 12 for the day. I was like whoa – that’s sort of when I guess I became aware of it,” said the Holywood man, who would go back to the top of the world rankings should he win and Scottie Scheffler finish lower than second.

“I saw he was 12-under playing the last, so I was like whoa, just a hell of a round out there even with bogey at the last. It wasn’t easy. It’s tricky and the greens are super quick and if you’re just a little off, they can punish you. So yeah, really impressive round of golf.”

McIlroy kept himself in contention after two early bogeys with five birdies on his back nine on his way to his 67, which has him in solo fifth at nine-under-par, one shot behind Cam Davis and Aaron Wise, who are tied for third at 10-under-par.

Lowry is not out of it either as he posted five birdies and one bogey in his 67 to hold a share of sixth at seven-under-par, with the Offaly man pleased to battle through his round after having to drive an hour to get a new putter after breaking his previous one during the first round.

“New putter was OK,” he laughed. “Behaved early on, but then left a few short. And it’s funny when you’re kind of not used to something, but yeah, it was fine, it was good.

“Overall, pretty good today, hit it really well. My iron play was very solid and yeah, made a few birdies. I finished average enough. Bogeyed probably one of the easiest holes on the course, but other than that, the golf was pretty good.”

Meanwhile, Power isn’t counting himself out either if he can get on a run over the weekend in South Carolina, the Waterford man starting the third round just outside the top-10 after four birdies and two bogeys in a 69 took him to six-under.

“I’m putting well and I really like the greens here, so you know you’ve got a chance. Hopefully nobody gets too far away or anything like that, but I feel very comfortable on the course, so hopefully some more good stuff tomorrow,” said Power.

Rahm almost holed out from 195 yards on the 17th during his 62 and could have hit 10-under on the day were it not for a bogey at the last, but the former US Open champion carded ten birdies as he tied Kitayama, who had a 65, at the top.

SCORING

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