Saturday 24 February 2018

'I hit a drive about 230 yards' - Rory McIlroy on the 'brutal' weather conditions at British Open

Rory McIlroy lines up a putt on the 14th green during the second round
Rory McIlroy lines up a putt on the 14th green during the second round

Harry Clarke

Rory McIlroy battled hard in tough conditions at Royal Troon but he faces a huge challenge to catch leader Phil Mickelson in the British Open.

McIlroy carded a level-par 71 to leave him at -2 for the tournament and a full eight shots behind American Mickelson on a day when the late starters were handicapped by fierce winds at Royal Troon.

Justin Rose was one player who voices his concerns over morning and afternoon tee times but McIlroy says he respects the "traditions of the Open".

A two-tee start was used for the first time in Open history in the third round at Hoylake in 2014 in anticipation of bad weather, which memorably arrived just as eventual winner McIlroy was giving his post-round press conference.

Asked if he would like to see the same system implemented full time, McIlroy joked: "I was probably saying that to myself on the 13th hole. Everyone had the spell where it was brutal and for us it was on 13.

"I hit a drive that I thought was 20 yards left of the fairway and I got up there and it was in the middle of the fairway just because it went about 230 (yards).

"But it's one of the traditions of the Open and I respect that. The first group tees off at 6:30am and the last at 4:30pm and it's the only tournament where we do that."

Speaking about a second round of 71 which left him two under par, McIlroy added: "I used to hate playing in conditions like that but I have found a way to get myself round the course and be as positive as possible.

"No-one enjoys it but there is some sort of challenge to it. I made it a goal of mine to play better in these conditions and that was one of the better ones.

"I'm trying to be as optimistic as I can and I can draw on memories of being in a similar position and having won, but this is a little different."

World number one Jason Day claimed he had never played in worse weather.

Additional reporting by PA

The Australian had hoped to move up the leaderboard but dropped two shots on the back nine and had to settle for a one-under-par 70 that took him to one over.

Asked if it was the worst storm he had played in, he said: "Yes, by far. We totally expected to have conditions that were going to be difficult, but not to the point where it was blowing 30 to 40 miles an hour with winds and rain coming in sideways.

"It was coming down pretty heavy on me. My weather gear is totally soaked now, and I've got to somehow dry it out before tomorrow."

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