Rory McIlroy starting to find form but still plenty to work on
It was better, but Rory McIlroy is still further off the pace than he would like after two rounds at the Northern Trust Open. The Ulsterman's second round of 68, two-under par, has him at one-over for the tournament, seven shots off the lead held by a collection of players including World No.1 Dustin Johnson and Open champion Jordan Spieth.
And yet McIlroy will be frustrated with another day that yielded better results, but nothing awe-inspiring.
Only dropping one shot, at the par-four 14th, was an excellent sign, but just three birdies mixed in with 14 pars, including seven-in-a-row to finish his round, is not what the doctor ordered.
The doctor, in this scenario, being Steve McGregor, who last week signed off on McIlroy playing the remainder of the PGA Tour season in the hope he can salvage a victory from what has been a mediocre season.
That win probably won't come this weekend, as McIlroy proved once again that he is still close, but not quite where he wants to be.
If he wants to defend his FedEx Cup title, and the $10million prize fund that goes with it, he needs bigger and better results to improve on his 44th place in the standings.
Starting on the 10th at Glen Oaks Club, he rattled off three straightforward pars before rolling in a 16ft putt at the par-five 13th for a birdie to get going.
He immediately gave that shot back to the course, bogeying 14 with a frustrating three-putt, before gaining it back at the 16th.
It looked like he would drop another shot at the par-three 17th when he found the water off the tee, but the World No.4 rolled in a majestic chip shot to save an outstanding par, another sign of what he can do.
But the round never kicked on from there. An excellent putt from off the green on the 2nd gave him another birdie, but all he could manage for the remainder of the round were pars to leave him looking a long way up the leaderboard going into the weekend.
It's an improvement, but not enough for a man who craves more.
Meanwhile, on the European Tour, Steve Webster will take a one-shot lead into the weekend at the Made in Denmark as he goes in search of his first European Tour title in 10 years.
The Englishman lost his playing privileges last season after being an ever-present for 20 years and almost did not play at Himmerland this week due to his grandmother having had a fall at the weekend.
His father convinced him to tee it up and he followed up an opening 64 with a 70 in windier conditions to get to eight under and lead the way from a group of four players at -7.