McIlroy insists he still has a really good chance at winning the Open

Ronan MacNamara

Rory McIlroy (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) / EDITORIAL USE ONLY (Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images)

Rónán MacNamara in Hoylake

It’s been a battle for Rory McIlroy through the first 36 holes of the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool but he still believes destiny lies in his own hands despite trailing Brian Harman by nine shots heading into the weekend.

McIlroy birdied the 18th to grind out a one-under 70 which leaves him on that mark and while he is way off the pace in the quest to catch the runaway Harman, he is just four shots off second place and after his round he was rather content with his opening 36 holes.


“It’s important to me to birdie the last, I got off to a great start was a couple under through nine and threw shots away on two of the easier holes on the course 11 and 15 but it was nice to get at least one of them back on 18 there,” said a tired looking McIlroy who birdied the first and fifth either side of a missed tiddler on 3.

“It played tough, it played really really tough, ten-under par is unbelievably impressive out there and we will see what the weekend holds but I’m pretty happy with my two days work.”

The forecast is set for high winds and some showers in between the rain this weekend and the 2014 Open champion who opened with successive rounds of 66 at Hoylake nine years ago might need something similar if he is to avoid a decade long major drought.

“I don’t think I have to do anything differently, I hit the ball well tee to green, missed a couple of chances on the greens, the wind got me today,” said McIlroy who is 55th in driving accuracy and 31st in greens in regulation. “It’s hard, sometimes you’re in two minds to play the wind, to not play the wind that stretch of 12, 13 and 14 those greens are quite exposed and you have to play the wind a bit.

“Nine back there won’t be a ton of players between me and the lead going into the weekend. It depends what the conditions are tomorrow and it depends on what Brian does as well. Right now, it’s not quite out of my hands but at the same time if I can get to three, four, five-under par tomorrow going into Sunday I’ll have a really good chance.

“I think with how I’ve been able to flighty my iron shots and I think last week in Scotland was great preparation for what we faced the last couple of days. I felt more comfortable in the wind over the last few years and I feel I can perform in all sorts of conditions, whatever it throws at us over the next couple of days I’ll be prepared for it.”

The four-time major champion showed some bunker heroics on the 18th on Thursday night as he got up and down for par with one foot out of the left green side bunker and on Friday morning he was the beneficiary of the R&A instructing greenkeepers to add an extra layer of sand in the bunkers to give more of an upslope towards the revetted faces.

A superb bunker shot carried over the lip on the par-5 5th to three-feet for an exhibition birdie, a shot that would not have been possible 24-hours earlier given the height he needed to clear the face.

“I hit a four iron into the fifth hole today and it pitched on top of the bunker and came back in. I didn’t know at that point that they had made that gradual rise into the face and when I got up there I was pleasantly surprised that I had a shot so I’d say there isn’t one person in the field who didn’t welcome that change,” he laughed.

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