Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

McIlroy proves a hit with the fans

Rory McIlroy birdied the last hole to stay within three shots of the lead
Rory McIlroy birdied the last hole to stay within three shots of the lead

World number two Rory McIlroy reflected on an "eventful" finish to his round at The Open after his ball hit a spectator and bounced out of bounds - costing him two shots and threatening to derail his bid for a second major.

The Northern Irishman was three under par and joint fifth at Royal Lytham when the incident happened on the 15th hole. Having checked Jason Blue was not badly injured, signing a glove for the 16-year-old while he was trying to stem the flow of blood from his head, McIlroy was forced to go back to the tee and ended up double-bogeying the hole.

However, he bounced back by driving the green on the 336-yard next and two-putted to return to two under. He then birdied the last to return to where he had been before the mishap on the 15th. The 23-year-old, whose opening 67 left him three shots adrift of leader Adam Scott, said: "It was an eventful last four holes. Everything was going along pretty nicely."

He added: "I hit it slightly right and got an unfortunate break. I thought I did well to keep my composure after that.

"I didn't realise there was out of bounds over there. I was shocked when I was told, but it's just one of those things.

"It went 20 yards right off his head. He could have headed it the other way!

"The most important thing was that he was okay and the birdie at 18 will make dinner taste very nice."

McIlroy, the 2011 US Open champion, had been the model of consistency playing the first six holes in regulation pars before birdies at the seventh and eighth saw him turn in a two-under 32. He dropped a shot at the 10th but then birdied his next two before things got rather more interesting late on.

"I think we had it maybe slightly tougher than the guys in the morning and 67 was a score that I'm very pleased with," he added.

"You're just trying to play well and put yourself into position going into Sunday. It doesn't matter what the leader is on on Thursday."

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