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Steady McIlroy keeps himself in contention as conditions blow away competition at Torrey Pines

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Mixed bag: Rory McIlroy wasn’t at his best but is still in the thick of things in California

Mixed bag: Rory McIlroy wasn’t at his best but is still in the thick of things in California

AP

Mixed bag: Rory McIlroy wasn’t at his best but is still in the thick of things in California

The birdies were hard to come by for Rory McIlroy on day two at the Farmers Insurance Open, but the Northern Irishman is still in the mix going into the weekend in California.

After a strong display in the opening round on the tougher South Course at Torrey Pines, the World No.7 took to the easier North Course on Friday but could only manage a one-under-par 71 to move to five-under overall heading into the weekend.

However, the frustration will be his inability to turn pars into birdies as he rattled off eight straight pars on his back-nine meaning that, while he wasn't making mistakes, he only made up one stroke on the leaders, with Norway's Viktor Hovland leading by one at nine-under-par.

The 31-year-old, who started his round at the 10th on the North, had seemingly picked up where he left off in Thursday's round when he birdied the 10th and 12th holes to move six-under.

However, McIlroy came unstuck by missing a short birdie putt at the 13th and then started to drop down the leaderboard when he recorded back-to-back bogeys at the 14th and 15th to drop back to four-under.

It looked like he'd regained his momentum by taking advantage of the par-five 17th, picking up a straightforward birdie, but a dropped shot at the 18th undid the good work, before the Holywood ace embarked on his remarkable back-nine, where he couldn't find that crucial birdie to get on a roll, burning the hole on a few chances prior to birdieing his final hole, the ninth.

However, McIlroy has given himself a chance going into the weekend, with the final two rounds both played on the South Course, which will also host the US Open later this year.

Meanwhile, McIlroy has been nominated to run for chairman of the Player Advisory Council (PAC) on the PGA Tour. McIlroy, Scotland's Russell Knox or American Kevin Streelman will be elected by fellow players in a vote which ends on February 11.

"I've enjoyed being on the PAC the last couple of years and I think that with what's happening between the PGA Tour and the European Tour I have the ear of the PGA Tour and I have the ear of the European Tour," McIlroy said in reference to the "strategic alliance" agreed by the two organisations.

"I just feel like I've been around a long time and I feel I can maybe help facilitate things and maybe guide things in a certain direction for what I think is better for everyone."

McIlroy is a member of the 16-player PAC but believes he will have a greater influence as chairman, with the elected player earning a three-year term.

"I've enjoyed getting to know more about the Tour business, I've enjoyed being a part of the calls that went into being able to play out here with COVID conditions," McIlroy said.

"Sometimes on the PAC it's great to be involved and it's great to have your voice heard but that's all it does. You don't have a vote and being PAC chair, being on the policy board, you have a vote and your voice counts."

Meanwhile, on the European Tour, Graeme McDowell missed the cut by five shots at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic after a one-over 73 in his second round saw him finish five-over.

Belgium's Thomas Detry leads the way at 10-under, with Scotland's Robert MacIntyre one shot back in second at nine-under.

European Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington starts the weekend four-under, while Open champion Shane Lowry is two-under-par at Emirates Golf Club.

Belfast Telegraph


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