Wednesday 17 July 2019

Eagle-eyed McIlroy surges up leaderboard at Torrey Pines

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off yesterday. Photo: Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off yesterday. Photo: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy turned on the jets and fired two eagles in a second-round 65 to roar back into contention in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

Nine shots behind overnight leader Jon Rahm starting the day, the world number eight got off to a blistering start in the easier North Course, holing a 15-footer for an eagle three at his opening hole, the 536-yard 10th.

After making an eight-footer to avoid a three-putt bogey at the 15th, he didn't need the putter at all at the 393-yard 16th, one-hopping a wedge into the hole for a two and his second eagle of the round.

Another birdie at the par-five 17th, where he holed from eight feet, got him to six-under for the day with 10 holes to play.

But while he birdied the second and 322-yard seventh to get to seven-under, he stalled in the middle of the back nine and was pleased he stayed patient and sandwiched a bogey at the eighth between birdies from 10 feet at the seventh and ninth for a 65.

"I hit three perfect shots right out of the gate and played a great nine holes and got myself right back in the tournament," McIlroy said of his outward 31.

"I played well yesterday - much better than that 71 suggested - so knew I had to play similarly, stay patient and hole a few putts and I was able to do that nicely.

"That birdie on the last just capped off a nice day because after playing those first nine holes in five-under par, it's hard not to have your expectations go to, 'Oh, I could have shot 63, 62.

"I felt like I was standing still on the 12th-13th-14th, but to birdie two of the last three, it was nice to finish that way."

Rahm's opening 62 gave him a one-shot lead over world number one Justin Rose and Doug Ghim, and while they were among the later starters,

McIlroy's 24-putt round left him tied with Adam Scott on eight-under, seven shots behind second round leader Justin Rose, who shot a 66 on the South Course to sit three clear of Hideki Matsuyama.

As for Tiger Woods, the 14-time Major champion, carded a second successive 70 that left him just inside the projected cut on four-under and admitted he'll need "a very special weekend to have a chance".

At the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, Shane Lowry is lurking just four shots behind world number five Bryson DeChambeau and Australian Lucas Herbert at halfway.

Herbert (23) shot a nine-under-par 63 to set the pace before being joined by DeChambeau, who posted a second successive 66. But while Paul Dunne missed the three-under cut for the second week running - a triple-bogey seven at the ninth doing most of the damage as he shot 75 to miss out by four shots - Lowry continued his hot run of form by making six birdies in a five-under 67 to move up to tied 14th on eight-under.

Complaints

Having said after his opening 66 that he was unhappy with his game, DeChambeau had no complaints yesterday, bar the fact that he "just didn't have the right sensations and proprioception over shots."

As for his new method of putting with the pin in the hole, he was happy to explain why he sees the flagstick as a friend after he made a speedy 18-footer at the 10th for eagle.

"If I had a higher terminal velocity, it may have bounced off. But at that point, it was still good enough to dampen it enough to drop in the cup."

Three-time Dubai Desert Classic winner Ernie Els (49) carded a seven-under 65 to go into the weekend just a shot behind Herbert and DeChambeau on 11-under par third with 2011 winner Alvaro Quiros, who rediscovered his putting touch to shoot 64.

Omega Dubai Desert Classic,

Live, Sky Sports Golf, 8.30am

Farmers Insurance Open

Live, Sky Sports Golf, 4.30pm

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