Rory McIlroy closes in on leaders at Memorial

World No 3 trails Matt Kuchar and Brendan Steele by five after round of 66

 Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy  walk down the fairway on the 18th hole during the second round of The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. Photograph: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy walk down the fairway on the 18th hole during the second round of The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. Photograph: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

 

Rory McIlroy shot a superb six under par 66, a round containing eight birdies, to move into the top 15 in the Memorial tournament at Muirfield Village yesterday. He started the day on one under and although still five shots off the pacesetters can be very pleased with his efforts.

McIlroy was looking for a fast start and duly managed to gather momentum with birdies at the first and third holes.

The players were looking to make the most of ideal weather conditions and a slightly soft course and the field achieved that for the most part, no more so than Americans Brendan Steele (65, 67) and Matt Kuchar (66, 66), who shared the clubhouse lead on 12 under par. The latter has a particular fondness for the Jack Nicklaus designed layout, having finished eighth, fifth, second and first here.

Playing alongside Jordan Spieth the world number three holed from 18 feet for birdie at the first and then his wedge approach from 140 yards at the third came to rest six feet from the pin, a chance he converted for birdie.

The recent crowned Irish Open champion made the most of his prodigious length to set up a brace of birdies at the par fives, fifth and seventh, getting up and down from a greenside trap on the first occasion and two-putting from 28-feet for his fourth birdie of the round.

In between McIlroy dropped his first shot when three putting the par four sixth. It was a temporary aberration as he recorded his fifth birdie of the opening nine holes, at the par three eighth, when holing from 17 feet.

Orthodox putting

Spieth, in contrast, endured a hugely frustrating time, managing only one birdie that was overshadowed initially by a couple of bogeys but five birdies in seven holes from the ninth, saw him accelerate to six under for the tournament.

The world number one Jason Day had been among the early starters but he left feeling a little grumpy after shooting a one under 71 to go with Thursday’s 66. He managed to hit just six fairways and 10 greens but was rescued by his short game and putter, taking on 23 putts during the round.

He admitted: “There was a little bit of a difference between yesterday (Thursday) and today (Friday). I had no control over my swing. If my short game hadn’t been good I could have shot in the high 70s.”

McIlroy birdied the 10th – single putting once again, a snaking 35-footer. He reached the par five 11th in two for yet another birdie but immediately gave it back at the next when his tee shot flew the green, short-siding him and his six foot par putt lipped out.

He scrambled well to counter a couple of poor swings and then on the 15th made it a clean sweep of birdies on the par fives to move to seven under for the tournament.

Double bogey

Dustin Johnson
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