Friday 20 April 2018

'I have rediscovered my love for the game' - Rory McIlroy on his return to form ahead of The Masters

Rory McIlroy finding form ahead of the The Masters next month. Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy finding form ahead of the The Masters next month. Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Rory McIlroy has revealed that he was found a new love for golf, as he moved into contention at the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a second round 70 at Bay Hill.

A dropped shot on the last hole did not wipe the smile from McIlroy's face, as his total of five under-par ensured he would make the cut after missing out at the Valspar Championship last week.

"I'm feeling great, feeling good and happy to be here for the weekend, so happy to have two more rounds to play,” he said.

“I definitely don’t feel like I’ve got stale or in any way frustrated or tedious playing all these weeks in a row or monotonous as I have like being out here. 

"I like playing golf and I feel like over the last couple of months from late in 2017 to now I have rediscovered my love for the game so much so I am even enjoying playing casual rounds of golf, as well."

Meanwhile, Sweden's Henrik Stenson overcame a slow start to remain firmly in contention at the top of the leaderboard on day two of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Stenson added a second round of 69 to his opening 64 at Bay Hill to set the early clubhouse target on 11 under par, a target matched minutes later by American Bryson DeChambeau following a 66.

Rory McIlroy, who has missed the cut in two of his last four starts on the PGA Tour, is six shots off the pace after a second round of 70 which featured five birdies and two bogeys.

Stenson had covered the back nine in 31 on Thursday, but after starting from the 10th on Friday, the former Open champion could only manage nine straight pars to reach the turn in 36.

The par streak was extended to 13 holes before Stenson found his range on the greens to birdie the fifth, sixth and seventh to maintain his bid for a first win of the season.

Asked what made the difference between missing the cut in last week's Valspar Championship and his performance so far, the world number 15 told PGA Tour Live: "Putting more than anything, but a combination of putting and my shots.

"I've been hitting a few really close this week and setting up some good opportunities from three or four feet. Today wasn't as good as yesterday, obviously but the important part for me was 16, 17, 18. I scrambled for par all those three holes after hitting some not so-good golf shots.

"I kept patient and then I got on a strong and made three [birdies] in a row coming home. Three under around this golf course is never bad."

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