Friday 27 April 2018

McIlroy defies slow play to hit top gear

Bernie McGuire , in Hilversum

If the irritation of slow play was not enough, Rory McIlroy had to deal with the annoyance of being attacked by ants on the final hole in his second round at the KLM Open.

McIlroy's second shot to the eighth hole came to rest against an ant hill and no sooner had the reigning US Open champion inspected his ball than ants were swarming over his shoes and trousers.

The 22-year-old was afforded a 'free' drop en route to a closing par and a 65 for a five-under-par tally.

India's Shiv Kapur (67) heads the Dutch field at seven-under-par with Scotland's Gary Orr (66) and South African James Kingston (68) on six- under-par.

However, with some five hours lost to play on Thursday, half of the field of 78 players will not complete their second round until mid-morning today before the cut-off mark is confirmed.

The 'lift-clean-and-place' rule in effect has made for extremely slow rounds and tested the patience of all, including McIlroy and world No 2 Lee Westwood who recorded a 66 to finish one stroke behind McIlroy.


McIlroy had been in place at 8.15am local time yesterday to complete 12 holes of his first round and, after recording a level-par 70, had about an hour's break before heading out to contest his second round.

"It's been a very long two days as the alarm clock went off at six this morning, which was not the nicest thing," said McIlroy.

"But it was nice to get back out there to finish off the round well. To shoot even-par was good.

"Then, to go out later and shoot five-under and put myself in a position going into the weekend is very satisfying."

McIlroy could at least laugh off the scenario at the eighth -- although if he is to move into contention for the world No 1 spot, you'd want him to be able to handle himself better than the impromptu performance he gave the Hilversum spectators.

"I am just hoping when I get back to the hotel I won't discover any ants in my shoes or my pants," he said smiling.

"I know one thing, I will be staying to the right of the eighth fairway."

In contrast, Westwood was more to the point as he seeks a second Dutch Open win a dozen years after his first.

"The greens are so slow, they're like putting through treacle," said Westwood.

"We are also down to a two-ball because Peter Hanson pulled out, but aside from that the pace of play is pitifully slow."

Ballyclare's Gareth Maybin was presented with a bottle of champagne to celebrate his first Tour ace when he hit a 'soft' nine-iron into the 136-metre par-three fifth hole that he was playing as his 15th.

However, Maybin's scores of 69 and 72 for a one-over-par tally meant he faces an anxious wait until the halfway cut is confirmed mid-morning today.

Among those inside the expected level-par cut mark, and still to complete their rounds, is former Irish Open winner Shane Lowry on one-under-par while Vivendi Seve Trophy captain Paul McGinley sits right on the mark at level-par.

McGinley was at the course near lunchtime hitting balls for an hour, but then returned to his hotel for some sleep ahead of the 5.25pm (local time) start to his second round.

Damien McGrane is on two-over-par with eight holes left in his second round.

In contrast, Peter Lawrie gets to return to his young family, after missing a cut for the first time in eight events with scores of 73 and 74.

Meanwhile, McGinley has arranged for his caddie 'Edinburgh Jimmy' Rae to take control of his GB & I captain's buggy at next week's Vivendi Seve Trophy.

Organisers have offered him a free room while McGinley is paying for his return flight.

And 'Edinburgh Jimmy' has also been helping McGinley with his likely team picks, with the Worksop pair of Lee Westwood and Mark Foster fancied to team up.

KLM Open,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 12.0

Irish Independent

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