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McIlroy's birdie blitz sees him make RBC cut as Watney tests positive

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'Rory McIlroy looked to face a stiff task of making the projected four-under cut but he bounced back from his first-round tribulations with some very solid golf.' Photo: USA TODAY Sports

'Rory McIlroy looked to face a stiff task of making the projected four-under cut but he bounced back from his first-round tribulations with some very solid golf.' Photo: USA TODAY Sports

USA TODAY Sports

'Rory McIlroy looked to face a stiff task of making the projected four-under cut but he bounced back from his first-round tribulations with some very solid golf.' Photo: USA TODAY Sports

Rory McIlroy fired a superb, bogey-free 65 to make the cut at the RBC Heritage in South Carolina with two shots to spare, but the main headlines were taken by US golfer Nick Watney who tested positive for Covid-19.

Watney, who travelled privately to Hilton Head Island for the tournament and was not on the PGA Tour-provided charter flight, is the first member of the Tour to test positive for the coronavirus. He withdrew ahead of the second round.

On the course, Webb Simpson record a second 65 to moved into the early clubhouse lead on 12-under - a shot clear of Bryson DeChambeau and Canada's Corey Connors.

Starting out on one-over yesterday, McIlroy looked to face a stiff task of making the projected four-under cut but he bounced back from his first-round tribulations with some very solid golf. The Holywood ace fired three birdies on each nine to safely make the cut and will turn his focus to chasing down Simpson from his halfway total of five-under.

Unable

Shane Lowry was projected to miss his second cut since golf's return despite carding a four-under 67 yesterday. The Clara man was unable make amends for his opening 74. Lowry, who hit 12 of 18 greens in regulation, opened well with a birdie on the par-four first and followed it up with birdies on the second, fifth and seventh holes.

However, the Offaly man needed to do much more as did Graeme McDowell who also finished on one-under overall after his second-round 66 which saw him record seven birdies and two bogeys. Former US Open champion Simpson mixed nine birdies with three bogeys for a six-under-par 65 that left him at 12-under. "I had a few par-savers that kind of kept my momentum going, but I did drop three shots, all kind of physical errors," said the world No 9. "I'm thinking well right now, so I'd rather physical errors than mental errors."

Simpson, who started on the back nine alongside DeChambeau and Davis Love III, hit 13 of 18 greens in regulation and made 186 feet worth of putts, including a 38-foot birdie at the par-four 18th.

He recovered in style after a bogey at the par-three seventh with a 19-foot birdie at his penultimate hole and a six-footer at the last after a brilliant approach from 114 yards.

DeChambeau made six birdies over an eight-hole stretch on the front nine and felt he could have gone lower if he could get more consistent with his putter. RBC Heritage, Live, Sky Sports, from 11.45

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