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'It was a grind' - Rory McIlroy fluffs two successive shots but remains in contention at Bay Hill

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Rory McIlroy had a mixed round at Bay Hill. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy had a mixed round at Bay Hill. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Rory McIlroy had a mixed round at Bay Hill. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy struggled to build on his sparkling opening round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but he remains in contention heading into the weekend.

The world No 1 was unable to repeat his opening round of 66 at Bay Hill as he carded a double-bogey six on the eighth hole, but he battled hard to card a one-over par round of 73 that left him just two behind leaders Tyrrell Hatton and Sung Kang.

"It was a grind," McIlroy told Sky Sports. "I think I made it more of a grind than I needed to. But yeah, it was tough. Conditions were tricky, greens are getting firm, the wind was out of a different direction today, so that made things a little interesting too.

"The conditions were a lot tougher than we got them yesterday morning.

"A lot of crosswinds. And then if you did miss fairways it's really tough with how firm these greens are to get it anywhere close.

"I made a couple of unforced errors on the seventh and the eighth hole but felt like I bounced back well after that to keep myself in the tournament.

"So obviously still a lot of golf left. The conditions are tough and I expect them to be tough for the rest of the weekend and it's going to be one of those tournaments where you just have to hang in there and hang around and take your chances when they present themselves.

"I think if I shoot two scores in the 60s and get myself to double digits under par, I think I'll have a really good chance."

Englishman Hatton carded a steady round of 69 to move to the top of the leaderboard, despite suggesting he was not playing at his best.

"I'm surprised to be leading," said Hatton. "I feel like I lost my swing on the last nine holes and was uncomfortable over the ball and didn't know where it was going to go.

"My short game and putting got me through it, but I need to have a better long game over the weekend to contend here. I need to be better than I was over the back nine to have a chance."

Online Editors