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From the sublime to the ridiculous for Rory

By Michael Kelly

Rory McIlroy was brought crashing back to earth on the second day of the Memorial Tournament as he carded a six-over-par 78 to tumble down the leaderboard.

McIlroy followed up his BMW PGA Championship victory at Wentworth on Sunday with a superb 63 in the first round in Ohio to open up a three-shot lead, but the Ulsterman certainly had a day to forget yesterday.

Most of the damage was done on a disastrous opening nine where three consecutive double bogeys saw him go out in 43 at Muirfield Village.

Starting on the back nine, the erratic McIlroy bogeyed his opening hole, the par-four 10th, before parring 11 and picking the shot back up on 12.

It went rapidly downhill after that, though, as double bogeys followed on 13, 14 and 15 before two pars and a further bogey saw him reach the turn four shots off the lead.

That represented a 12-shot collapse on the back nine from Thursday where he had picked up two eagles, three birdies and a double bogey to record a 31.

McIlroy did manage to turn things round a bit on the back nine though, picking up birdies on the second and seventh while only dropping the one shot in between as he ended the day on three under par overall.

Despite that partial recovery though, McIlroy found himself seven shots behind Paul Casey midway through the second day as the Englishman roared clear at the summit.

Afterwards, McIlroy refused to blame his form on the left knee he injured during the first round.

"The knee's okay. It was a little sore this morning on the range because if I just keep hitting balls continuously and just keep torquing it, then it's going to get sore. But out on the course it was fine," he said.

"The painkillers kicked in. I felt it a little bit, but didn't really bother me too much."

What did bother the 25-year-old was missing fairways – 10 out of 14 yesterday.

"That was a big thing. I didn't realize how thick the rough was until I got in it today," he said.

"It's thick. I just kept missing fairways and making it tough for myself. And obviously that little three-hole stretch – 13, 14, 15 – didn't help. Take those three holes out of it, then it wouldn't actually have been that bad a day. But as I was saying yesterday, these little runs I'm getting on where it gets away from me, I was able to avoid that last week. Not so much this week."

But McIlroy insisted that his week wasn't over.

"Even though I had such a bad day, I'm still in with a chance depending on what the guys do this afternoon," he said.

"So going into the weekend, not exactly where I want to be, but could be worse. I am hitting a lot of good shots and I played the front nine solidly."

Casey shot a 66 on Thursday to sit in the three-man group immediately behind McIlroy alongside Americans Bubba Watson and Chris Kirk, and he picked up where he left off with an eagle and two birdies in his opening six holes .

That left the 36-year-old on 10 under for the tournament and with a three-shot lead over the rest of the field.

Watson was his nearest challenger, the charismatic American one under after two on Friday, while Kirk was one shot further back having parred his opening two holes.

Dane Thorbjorn Olesen was the clubhouse leader on six under after shooting a 67 that included seven birdies and two bogeys.

Belfast Telegraph


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