Fast-finishing McIlroy keeps his foot on the gas
Rory McIlroy slammed his foot on the accelerator and fired scintillating second-round 63 to roar into contention for the Omega European Masters.
As Pádraig Harrington, Paul Dunne and Gavin Moynihan missed the cut in the Swiss Alps, McIlroy produced a sensational finish in his quest for a title that escaped him in his rookie season.
Just two-under for the day despite rattling five birdies in the first 12 holes, he picked up five shots in his last five holes. After blasting a 397-yard drive, he birdied the 559-yard 14th, then followed an eagle three after another 355-yard missile at the uphill 15th with birdies at the 16th and 17th in a homeward nine of 30.
His seven-under round left him just one stroke behind Malaysia's Gavin Green on 10-under-par, tied for second with Tommy Fleetwood, Australia's Wade Ormsby, Austrian Matthias Schwab and Argentina's Andres Romero.
"I'm excited to give myself another chance to win," said world No 2 two McIlroy, who won the Tour Championship and the $15m FedEx Cup on Sunday and is now looking to cut Brooks Koepka's lead at the top of the world rankings.
"It would have been easy for me to take my foot off the gas after last week, but I really wanted to come here and play well.
"Hopefully I've two more good days of golf left in me, and give myself a chance to win this tournament, which I've had a great chance to win before. I would love to add this title to the list."
The cut fell at one-under-par, but Harrington shot 73 to miss out by five strokes while Dunne carded a 74 and Moynihan a 76 to finish on seven and nine-over respectively.
It's been a tough recent run for Dunne, who has now missed six of his last seven cuts and could fall to 100th in the Race to Dubai with only the top 110 keeping their cards.
It was also a bittersweet day for West Waterford's Seamus Power in his last-gasp bid to win back his full playing rights on the PGA Tour via the top 25 in the Korn Ferry Tour Finals points list.
He was three-under-par with three holes to go at Victoria National in Indiana, but bogeyed all three for a level par 72 in the final-counting Korn Ferry Tour Championship leaving him nine shots behind leader Chris Baker in joint 60th.
Power has conditional PGA Tour status but needs to finish solo sixth this week to make the top 25 points winners who will be fully exempt next season.
At the Challenge Tour's KPMG Trophy in Belgium, The Island's Paul McBride shot a six-under 65 and Portmarnock Links' Robin Dawson a 68 to lie just four shots off the lead at halfway.
They are tied for 11th on nine-under behind England's Jack Senior at Millennium Golf, where Gary Hurley and Stephen Grant missed the five-under cut on six and seven-over respectively.
On the Symetra Tour, Leona Maguire's one-over 71 left her three shots outside the projected cut on five-over in the Sioux Falls Greatlife Challenge in North Dakota.
In seniors golf, former Ryder Cup winner Philip Walton birdied his last three holes to open with a two-under 70 in the Sinclair Invitational at Hanbury Manor Marriott Hotel in Hertfordshire.
The Malahide man was tied for 12th, four shots behind Gary Evans with Des Smyth 39th after a two-over 74.
Ballymena's Dermot McElroy tied for 10th on four-under in the PGA Europro Tour's Prem Group Irish Masters at Tulfarris. His closing 73 left him eight shots behind England's Marco Penge on four-under.
Meanwhile, Leinster won the men's Interprovincial Championship for the fourth time in five years despite losing 7-4 to Connacht on the final day at Tullamore.
Hermitage's Rowan Lester was the top scorer with five-and-a-half points out of six as Leinster edged out Ulster and Connacht on their superior match points total.
Omega European Master
Live Sky Sports, 10.30