More fireworks on 16 for Rory but he finds himself eight shy

Ronan MacNamara

Rory McIlroy (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy hit the shot of the tournament on the sixteenth seven years ago when he drilled a 3-wood from 273 yards into the heart of the green en route to winning the Horizon Irish Open at the K Club. There’s even a plaque to mark the occasion.

It wasn’t quite shot of the tournament and there will be no plaque commemorating his third shot to the par-5 in round two this year but holing out for eagle from 116 yards with a gap wedge that spun back from the slope behind the pin is surely shot of the day which briefly breathed life into McIlroy’s round as he shot a two-under 70 for a five-under total.

“Something about that hole! It was a lovely pin for a wedge today with that back stop and cutting it in, using the slope to bring the ball back, it’s always a bonus and bit of luck when they go in the hole but it was a lovely shot, wish I kicked on and played the last two holes a bit better but I’m still in the mix if I can get off to a fast start tomorrow,” said McIlroy who was talked into laying up by Harry Diamond having missed the fairway from the tee.


“Thank God I missed the fairway because I would have gone for the green and God knows what would have happened!”

For those who have been following the Holywood man closely this year Friday afternoon’s round will have been one of so many where he burned edges all day and in typical McIlroy fashion he gave the eagle on 16 straight back on 17 after the clumsiest of double bogeys involving a duffed pitch and missed tiddler. He did however, birdie 18 but he trails Jordan Smith and Shubhankar Sharma by eight shots at the halfway point, having been ten shy of Sharma before teeing off.

“I hit the ball better from tee to green just didn’t hole anything, gave myself a lot of chances, felt like I hit a lot of decent putts but some lacked a bit of speed or I hit some through the break so decent putts but didn’t have the speed down. One of those days I tried to stay as patient as I could,” explained the four-time major winner who turned in level-par after a birdie on 5 and bogey on 8 before picking up a shot on the par-3 12th after an exquisite iron into eight-feet.

“Made that birdie on 12 and everything was going well, just got out of position on 17, missed a short putt, it’s been a few months since I made a double bogey, I’ve prided myself on limiting mistakes but that got away from me. A few back, need a good one tomorrow to get back into it.

“I’d rather be a few shots closer! I need to go out in the morning and shoot a low one and give myself opportunities from the fairway and if I do that and get a few putts to drop there are low scores to be had on this golf course.”

The 2016 Irish Open champion hasn’t driven the ball particularly well, case in point being a wayward drive on 17 to the right trees which culminated in that chastising double bogey. He is considering a more conservative approach from the tee on Saturday.

“I wanted to go out there and play a good round of golf I still feel like there is a lot of golf to play, previously I would have pushed too early but I know now that even from the halfway point I don’t have to do much pushing, just get it in play off the tee. My iron play is good enough to take advantage of opportunities from the fairway and giving myself chances from 15 to 20 feet all the time.”

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