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Rory McIlroy shows his grit but remains well adrift of WGC lead

 

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Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy

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Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy showed plenty of signs of resurgence in the second round of the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis, Tennessee after going under par for the first time in five rounds.

After an ugly three-over 73 on Thursday, the Holywood man bounced back superbly by recording five birdies and a solitary bogey on his way to a four-under-par 66 in a morale-boosting second round at TPC Southwind that leaves him one under par for the tournament.

McIlroy is still a long way off being in the hunt for the title, however, with the World No.2 already 10 shots behind leader Brendon Todd going into the weekend.

A run of three straight birdies for McIlroy got him up and running on his front nine, picking up strokes at the third, fourth and fifth, before adding another birdie at the 10th.

However, he couldn't advance any further than that, a bogey at the par-four 13th cancelled out by a birdie at the par-five 16th on his way in to stay one under.

It was a fairly straightforward round for Graeme McDowell, meanwhile, as he carded a level-par 70 in his second round that saw him birdie his opening hole, bogey the seventh and par the rest to lie two under for the week at the midway stage.

Leader Todd has been the best player in the field so far this week and was flawless in carding a five-under-par 65 in his second round which, along with an even more impressive 64 on Thursday, leaves him two shots clear on 11 under par.

Rickie Fowler picked up two birdies in his final three holes to move into solo second at nine under, while defending champion Brooks Koepka, who appears to be finding form at just the right time for his US PGA title defence, is among a three-way tie for third at seven under.

On the European Tour, Cormac Sharvin (Ardglass) is six shots off the lead at the Hero Open at the Marriott Forest of Arden near Birmingham after an excellent five-under-par 67.

Sharvin carded five birdies and an eagle - at the 12th, which he also eagled in his opening round on Thursday - along with two bogeys in his round to take him to seven under par for the tournament.

First-round leader Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez is still at the top of the leaderboard after day two at 13 under par, only he now has company in the shape of Sam Horsfield, who shot a sensational bogey-free 63 yesterday, with the pair holding a three-shot lead on Thomas Detry.

Jonathan Caldwell (Clandeboye) missed the two-under cut after a disappointing four-over 75 in his second round to finish three over for the two days.

On the LPGA Tour, Stephanie Meadow's return to action at the Drive On Championship in Toledo, Ohio got off to a rocky start after a two-over-par 74 in her opening round, the Galgorm Castle ace carding two bogeys in her opening three holes to fall off the pace early, with two birdies on the back nine offset by a further two bogeys.

Meanwhile, there was disappointing news for Tom McKibbin (Holywood), who has had to withdraw from the US Amateur due to travel restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus.

Belfast Telegraph