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McIlroy back in the swing of things after clarifying coaching situation following victory over Griffin

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Rory McIlroy hits off the 15th tee during a second round match at the Dell Technologies Match Play (David J. Phillip/AP)

Rory McIlroy hits off the 15th tee during a second round match at the Dell Technologies Match Play (David J. Phillip/AP)

AP/PA Images

Rory McIlroy hits off the 15th tee during a second round match at the Dell Technologies Match Play (David J. Phillip/AP)

Rory McIlroy bounced back from his opening loss to Ian Poulter with a 4&3 victory over Lanto Griffin on day two of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

However, the World No.11's fate is still out of his own hands after Poulter defeated Cameron Smith on the 18th hole, meaning McIlroy needs Griffin to do him a favour by beating the Englishman today.

If Griffin does pick up his first win of the group against Poulter, and McIlroy does the business against Smith, then McIlroy and Poulter will go to a sudden-death play-off to determine who reaches the last-16.

However, if Ryder Cup match play legend Poulter does the business against Griffin then he will progress to the knockouts having won all three of his group games.

McIlroy was much better in his win over Griffin, the benefit of hitting 11 bags of golf balls on the range on Wednesday night after his loss to Poulter, and comfortably accounted for the American.

And, after the win, the Holywood man clarified his coaching position after linking up with world renowned swing coach Pete Cowen and where long-time coach Michael Bannon fits into things.

“Michael is like a second dad to me, so Michael and I’s relationship and, I guess, agreement is still the same,” McIlroy said.

“It’s just the fact that I haven’t been able to see him as much recently, and then because there hasn’t been much continuity there, it feels like every time we saw each other it was almost like we were trying to do too much.

“I think Pete is out on Tour enough to give me maybe feels that I can play with and then stuff that I can work on on the range, because as everyone knows, it’s so hard to go out on the golf course and think so much about your golf swing.

“You need to be able to let that go and just be able to play shots. But if you have a couple little feels in there, it can help, and that’s sort of the reason that I’ve went down this road.

“It’s a very difficult game at times and I feel it’s testing me more than it has in the last few years and I feel the only way to get through it is put your head down and work on the right things. I feel like I’m on the right path.”

Meanwhile, Stephanie Meadow is just two shots off the lead after she found her groove in the opening round of the Kia Classic in Carlsbad, California.

The Jordanstown woman fired a four-under 68 in her opening round to sit in a tie for third, two shots back of Korea's Inbee Park after the first day at Aviara Golf Club.

It's been an average run recently for Meadow, who hasn't finished higher than 34th in her last four events, but her game clicked yesterday.

The only blemish on her card was a bogey at the second, and she added five birdies for her best round on the LPGA Tour since the second round of the Pelican Championship back in November.

Cavan ace Leona Maguire opened her tournament with a level-par 72 and is six back of Park.

Meanwhile, Graeme McDowell is four shots off the lead after the opening day of the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic.

McDowell, who won this event in 2019, carded a two-under 70 in what was a solid start to trail Germany's Stephan Jaeger at the top of the leaderboard.

The Rathmore man mixed four birdies with two bogeys in his round as he aims to pick up a first victory since February 2020 on familiar soil.

Belfast Telegraph


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