Rory McIlroy makes cut behind star-studded leaderboard
Jordan Spieth’s run of five straight birdies puts him in share of lead
Rory McIlroy tosses a ball on the ninth hole during round two of The Northern Trust at Glen Oaks Club in Westbury, New York. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Dogged and determined, Rory McIlroy went into the second round of The Northern Trust at Glen Oaks in New York fighting for his survival and achieved his objective in making the cut as he shot 68 a to add to his opening 73 for a midway total of one-over- par 141 to ensure he would be around for the weekend.
Although it was British Open champion Jordan Spieth who produced most of the champagne golf with a run of five successive birdies in moving into the thick of contention, McIlroy’s fare was more akin to that a craft beer which appealed to select tastes: the 28-year-old Northern Irishman did what he had to do with a round that comprised three birdies and one bogey.
McIlroy, the defending FedEx Cup champion, but still seeking his first win of an injury-plagued season, guaranteed he would get the chance for further upward momentum over the weekend with a solid if unspectacular round with birdies on the 13th from 18 feet and 16th from 10 feet and a chip-in on the second, his 11th. His only bogey came on the 14th, where his putter betrayed him and he ran up a three-putt.
The only Irish player to make the FedEx Cup playoffs, McIlroy – who was in danger of missing the cut after an opening 73 – at least managed to ensure his presence for the weekend but he was all of seven shots adrift of a classy bunch of leaders that included Spieth, world number one Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Jonny Vegas, who all made it to six under.
“It was a bit of a struggle, the score was better . . . I am working on a few things with my swing,” was McIlroy’s reaction soon after he finished his round.
“ I got into a few faults and I am trying to get it down more on plane. It is just trying to trust it on the course. I am looking forward to the next few months and getting healthy. I can still play and still compete, I am not near the top of the leaderboard but I can still compete.
Fowler, with four top-10s in his last five starts on the PGA Tour, shot a second round 66 and is intent on claiming a win.
“This is definitely the highest I’ve been in points going into the playoffs and I want to make sure I stay inside the top five going into East Lake. We’re off to a good start but looking forward to a good weekend.
“The last two days, I feel like I’ve driven it fairly well. I’ve only missed three fairways, one of them which I thought was actually perfect and went through the fairway. But playing out of the fairways is a big key here to take advantage of some of the shorter holes but also give you a chance to hit these longer ones in regulation.”
Spieth, for his part, put on a masterclass on this back nine with a run of five successive birdies from the 10th and then, after bogeying the 15th, responded with a long birdie putt on the 16th to also get to six under into a share of the lead before making par on the final two holes.
Fellow Americans Matt Kuchar (64) and Bubba Watson (68) are one shot behind the four-way tie for the lead, while first round co-leader Russell Henley is two back with Englishman Justin Rose and Spaniard Jon Rahm.
FedExCup points leader Hideki Matsuyama missed the cut by one stroke after three-putting the last for 69 and a three-over 143 score.
Matsuyama lipped out from four feet as the putting issues that cost him a chance of winning the US PGA Championship two weeks ago continued.