McIlroy lurking in Texas as Bhatia leads by five

Ronan MacNamara

Rory McIlroy (Photo by Raj Mehta/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Rory McIlroy is six shots off the lead heading into the weekend at the Valero Texas Open.

McIlroy ground out a second round of 70 to move into fifth place on five-under-par but he has plenty of work to do to catch Ashkay Bhatia who sits at the summit on eleven-under and holds a five shots lead.

“It was pretty good. I mean, I think, you know, I could stand here and say I wish I was a few shots better and missed a few putts and whatever, but it was tricky conditions,” said McIlroy.

“Obviously Akshay’s playing really well, but apart from that, no one’s really lighting the world on fire.

“Yeah, just keep grinding away. I’ve only made one bogey over two days, which I’m really pleased with. Would have been nice to make a few more birdies, but pretty happy with the last two days.”

Conditions at TPC San Antonio have been tough with strong winds providing a stiff test for the players and McIlroy was pleased with the amount of patience he showed.

“I guess I just stayed patient and tried to play pretty smart golf. I mean, the wind was up a little bit at the start of the round yesterday and then it died on the back nine. It was pretty much up from the get-go today. So just trying to keep the ball in play off the tee, trying to give yourself some good looks.

“Yeah, it was hard to make a ton of birdies out there today, so just stayed patient and yeah, not get too frustrated that you weren’t getting the ball too close or weren’t making a ton of birdies. Overall it was a solid round of golf.”

The four-time major winner insists he won’t go chasing over the weekend and see his chances blown away in the wind but he would like to get closer to some pins.

“I’d like to see a few of those iron shots and wedges go a little bit closer. Again, as I said last night, the miss has went from left the last few weeks to a little bit to the right, which I’m OK with.

“It means that what I’m working on is heading in the right direction. So just tightening that up a little bit. Then I missed a few putts from sort of inside 12 feet as well, try to tidy that up. If I can do those two things, I think I’ll have a good shot.”

McIlroy has been working with Butch Harmon in order to improve his iron play heading into the Masters next week and he has seen some positive signs.

“I’ve only made one bogey in the last two days, so that’s much better than what I showed through the Florida swing and that’s really been the reason for the work over the last two weeks is to try to eradicate the big misses and try to keep the ball more in front of me instead of off to the side. Over the last two days I’ve done that pretty well and hopefully keep doing that over the weekend.”

Meanwhile, Irish participation at the Masters will be limited to just two players (McIlroy, Shane Lowry) after Seamus Power and Padraig Harrington both missed the cut, bringing their hopes of an Augusta invite to an end.


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