Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

All on for Rory

Rory McIlroy was well off the pace at Sawgrass (AP)

Rory McIlroy has his work cut out to catch Ryder Cup team-mate Martin Kaymer despite a brilliant finish to his second round in the £6million Players Championship on Friday.

McIlroy looked destined for a fourth missed cut in five appearances at Sawgrass when he covered the front nine in 42, but the former world number one birdied the 12th, 13th, 16th and 18th to make the halfway cut on the mark of level par.

However, the 25-year-old's 74 left him 12 shots behind Kaymer after the 29-year-old German added a 69 to his course record-equalling 63 in the opening round.

Kaymer was five clear of the field when he signed his card but saw his lead trimmed to a single shot by rising star Jordan Spieth, the American world number seven the only player in the field without a single bogey in the first 36 holes.

The 20-year-old added a flawless 66 to his opening 67 as he looks to win golf's so-called 'fifth major' just a month after almost becoming the youngest Masters champion in history.

Spieth only turned professional in December 2012 and was a 19-year-old special temporary member on the PGA Tour when he won the John Deere Classic last July, the youngest winner on Tour since 1931. But he held a two-shot lead after seven holes of the final round on his debut at Augusta before finishing joint second behind Bubba Watson.

Kaymer, who won the US PGA Championship in August 2010 and became world number one the following February for eight weeks, said: "I was very happy the way I played golf the last four or five weeks, so the next step is just putting yourself in contention, hopefully win.

"If not, it's okay, but as long as you put yourself in contention for the next few weeks, especially now we're coming up to the US Open and British Open."

Lee Westwood, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia were all six shots off the lead after adding rounds of 71 to their opening 67s, with England's Brian Davis a shot behind after a 67.

Adam Scott endured a long wait before discovering his latest bid to become world number one remained alive, the Australian rebounding from his opening 77 - which featured double bogeys on the 17th and 18th - to return a 67 with three birdies in his last four holes.

Scott, who could have overtaken the absent defending champion Tiger Woods by simply staying at home, needs at least a top-16 finish and eventually discovered he had made the cut with nothing to spare.

"I don't think I played that much better than yesterday to be honest," said Scott, who revealed he married his long-term girlfriend Marie Kojzar in a small ceremony in the Bahamas last month.

Henrik Stenson, Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar are also able to overhaul Woods depending on their results, with Stenson needing a top-six finish, Watson to finish alone in second and Kuchar requiring a victory. European number one Stenson and two-time Masters champion Watson were three under, with Kuchar two under after a second consecutive 71.

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