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McIllroy is 'ecstatic' to be under


Rory McIlroy   Photo: Getty

Rory McIlroy Photo: Getty

Rory McIlroy Photo: Getty

An "ecstatic" Rory McIlroy had no need of a pep talk after one of his best rounds ever at the British Open kept him firmly in contention for a fifth major title at a wet and windy Royal Birkdale.

McIlroy was five over par after six holes of his opening round and seemed destined for a fourth missed cut in five events until a stern talking to from caddie JP Fitzgerald prompted a back-nine rally.

The world number four came home in 32 with three birdies in the last four holes and maintained that momentum yesterday, despite far tougher conditions.

Birdies on the first, third and sixth helped McIlroy reach the turn in 31, eight shots fewer than on Thursday and - although he dropped shots on the 13th and 15th - a birdie on the 17th helped the 28-year-old complete a superb 68.

"That's right up there," said McIlroy. "It's really tough out there. To be in after two days and be under par for this championship after the way I started, I'm ecstatic with that."