The Iceman McIlroy cometh roaring back with stunning 65
Rory McIlroy brilliantly broke free of the lethargy which gripped him during a frigid first round at The Barclays and gave the rest of the field the Ice Bucket treatment with yesterday's sublime 65 at Ridgewood Country Club.
After his stunning hat-trick of victories at The Open, the Bridgestone and the US PGA, when McIlroy embarks on a Tiger-style charge these days, it sends a veritable shockwave through his rivals.
So it was yesterday in the first of the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup play-offs as the 25-year-old dispelled all doubts raised by his sluggish opening 74 with a masterful performance befitting his status as world No 1.
If his timing had been awry on Thursday after McIlroy briefly neglected his intensive practice schedule of recent months to do full justice to the celebration of his recent successes with family and friends, it was near perfect during the second round.
The Holywood star made a challenging AW Tinninghast course look like child's play as he purred to three-under par.
"I went to the range yesterday afternoon and worked on a couple of things and am comfortable with my swing again," he said. "After not touching my clubs for more than a week, I felt a little rusty out there but it didn't take long, maybe an hour on the range, to get things back and I'm glad I did. I played really solid today."
On this form, closing the five strokes between himself and leaders Adam Scott and Cameron Tringale looks to be well within McIlroy's ambit.
Mind you, defending Barclays champion Scott, the Aussie McIlroy displaced from No 1, played majestically from tee to green during yesterday's 65 and if he sweeps up a greater proportion of his birdie chances with that broom-handled putter today and tomorrow, we could have battle royal in New Jersey.
Dad-to-be Graeme McDowell gave himself the chance to build-up a nest egg of precious Ryder Cup points this weekend with an adventurous 68 on a US Open-style course that suits one of the game's hardest grinders.
McDowell, whose wife Kristin is due to give birth to their first child, a daughter, on Monday, is determined to gather enough world points in New Jersey to copperfasten his place among the top nine on Europe's Ryder Cup rankings, who'll win automatic selection on Paul McGinley's team at Gleneagles.
Currently ninth on that list, the Portrush man must keep making birdies today and tomorrow to secure his place.
G-Mac made a slow start to his second round. He bogeyed 11, his second, after short-siding himself badly in deep rough way to the right of the green, then had to wait a further six holes for his first birdie.
That breakthrough came courtesy of a 16-foot putt for his four at the par-five 17th. Suddenly, he was up and running, holing from eight feet for another birdie at one, then potted a fabulous 24-footer to pick up his third shot in four holes at two. Bogeys out of deep rough at four and sand at seven bracketed delightful birdies at five and six as McDowell went gunning for flags and glory,
In Prague, Scotland's Ryder Cup hopeful Stephen Gallacher forcefully thrust himself into a share of third place on seven-under and within two shots of leader Jamie Donaldson. Waterford's Kevin Phelan (23) was Ireland's closest challenger in a tie for 29th on three-under after a splendid 69.
Two shots back lay flinty Kells veteran Damien McGrane after a solid, bogey-free 70, while Peter Lawrie (72) and Gareth Maybin (72) squeezed through the cut when a double-bogey six by Florian Praegant at the death brought 20 players on even-par back into the tournament - but gave the Austrian the weekend off!
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