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Rory's Open bid derailed

He faces battle to get back on track as Mickelson sets pace

by liam kelly

Published 16/07/2016

Branch line: A train driver slows down to watch Rory McIlroy line up a putt on the 11th green during the second round of The Open at Troon
Branch line: A train driver slows down to watch Rory McIlroy line up a putt on the 11th green during the second round of The Open at Troon

Rory McIlroy has to dig deep into his reserves of self-belief if he is to make up ground on overnight leader Phil Mickelson in the Open Cham­pionship at Royal Troon today.

McIlroy finished eight shots behind the 10-under-par pace set by Mickelson who showed no signs of weakening as he retained his place at the head of the leaderboard after the second round.

Sweden's Henrik Stenson is one be­hind on nine-under par, but McIlroy's mantra is 'believe' as he prepares for the traditional Saturday 'moving day'.

In his eyes, it has to be 'mission very possible' to give himself a chance of winning the Open for the second time.

"I feel like it's possible. There are 36 holes to go," he said. "Obviously the guys at the top of the leaderboard are playing very well. But I've given people head starts before and been able to win, and I'm just going to try to draw on those memories."

It is a tough task, particularly on this course where the two nines offer contrasting levels of difficulty. And the weather has to play a role as well.

McIlroy did get the fast start he wanted yesterday, firing four birdies in seven holes, before hitting a blip with three-putt bogey on nine.

He only had one birdie on the back nine, with three bogeys in the worst of the weather stalling his bid to make up ground.

Now the four-time Major champion needs to be strong mentally.

"I'm eight shots back. I'm trying to be as optimistic as I can, I guess. I can draw on memories of being in similar positions going into weekends and having won.

"But this is a little different. It's the Open Championship and the condi­tions are a little tougher. But, yeah, I'm optimistic. I feel like I've played well. I think that's the great thing. I'm in this position where I've played very well, so I'm happy with that," he said.

Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell and Pádraig Harrington also made the cut.

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