Rory McIlroy simulates to accumulate with stunning 63 in Texas

World No 1 took advantage of some practice at his rental home before round two

 Rory McIlroy  plays a shot from a bunker on the 11th hole during the second round of the Charles Schwab Challenge  at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. Photograph: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy plays a shot from a bunker on the 11th hole during the second round of the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. Photograph: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

 

Rory McIlroy provided a little insight into the world in which elite sportspeople cocoon away. The rental home in which he cocoons away when not at the course for the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club has a golf simulator in the basement, and it was there that he retreated for a time after his opening round on Thursday to tweak some aspects of his swing.

“It’s hot here, you don’t want to take too much energy out of yourself. But the fact where we’re staying has a simulator and you can hit some shots [helped], to get some numbers. I just needed to dial them in a little bit,” revealed McIlroy.

The result? A second-round 63 for a midway nine-under-par total of 131, which left the Northern Irishman two shots adrift of halfway leader Harold Varner III.

McIlroy, the world number one, actually finished with a bogey on the ninth, his closing hole, after a rare blip off the tee where he pushed his tee-shot right and was blocked out by a tree.

For the most part, though, McIlroy played with no obvious signs that the three-month shutdown in tournament play had impacted at all. In particular, his wedge play was razor sharp with no sign of any rustiness, while the high point of his round came with an eagle at the first, his 10th hole, where he hit a 3-iron approach of 223 yards to eight feet and rolled in the putt.

McIlroy was pleased post-round that he had brought his game to tournament after preparing with money practice matches in Florida in recent weeks with among others Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler and Shane Lowry.

“You can do as much practice as you want and play as much as you want at home, but until you actually get into that competitive environment, you’re never 100 per cent sure of how your game is. So I learnt a lot [in the first round], and I feel like I made some improvements and learnt a few things.

“I’ve been playing well at home and I’ve been hitting the ball the way I’ve wanted to, just a matter of getting it to translate out on to tournament play, and it’s nice that it has,” added McIlroy, who is making his debut at the historic course associated with the legendary Ben Hogan, a five-time winner of the Colonial Invitational.

“This is a golf course that’s always let the best players rise to the top. You have to be in complete control of your game, hit fairways, hit greens, convert some putts, and yeah, the leaderboard is a who’s-who of golf right now. I’m just happy to be in the mix,” said McIlroy.

McIlroy will be leading the Irish challenge into the weekend, after both Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell failed to make the cut in Texas.

McDowell’s round of 69 and 70 saw him miss the two under par cut mark by a single stroke - Lowry’s return to action was one to forget after he followed a 71 with a 73 on Friday.

Bryson DeChambeau is a shot off the lead at the halfway point in Texas. Photograph: Tom Pennington/Getty
Bryson DeChambeau is a shot off the lead at the halfway point in Texas. Photograph: Tom Pennington/Getty

Varner, chasing a breakthrough win on the PGA Tour, overcame a triple-bogey seven on his opening hole, the 10th, to respond brilliantly and came home in 30 strokes, including a run of four successive birdies from the fourth, to sign for a 66 that lifted him into the lead.

“Obviously not the start I wanted, but it’s just a part of golf. After making the triple I was just fighting for my life. I was really just focused on playing some good golf . . . when you’re out there you’re just so in the moment. Well, I was anyway,” said Varner.

Jordan Spieth, without a win since his British Open success in 2017, moved into a two-stroke lead at one stage of his second round only to suffer the ignominy of four-putting the third, his 12th, for a double-bogey. Rattled, he followed with a bogey on the fourth only to respond with birdies at the fifth and sixth to sign for a 65 that left him a shot behind Varner.

Spieth is joined by Bryson DeChambeau in second place on the leaderboard, after he also signed for consecutive 65s.

Collated second round scores and totals in the Charles Schwab Challenge (USA unless stated, par 70):

129 Harold Varner III 63 66

130 Bryson DeChambeau 65 65, Jordan Spieth 65 65

131 Rory McIlroy (NIrl) 68 63, Xander Schauffele 65 66, Collin Morikawa 64 67

132 Daniel Berger 65 67, Justin Thomas 64 68, Justin Rose (Eng) 63 69, Branden Grace (Rsa) 66 66, Gary Woodland 65 67

133 Joel Dahmen 68 65, Corey Conners (Can) 66 67

134 JT Poston 68 66, Abraham Ancer (Mex) 64 70, Peter Uihlein 69 65, Brian Harman 65 69, Bubba Watson 68 66

135 Harry Higgs 70 65, Mark Hubbard 67 68, Patrick Rodgers 67 68, Sungjae Im (Kor) 66 69, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa) 68 67, Tyler Duncan 65 70

136 Matthew Wolff 67 69, Rory Sabbatini (Svk) 68 68, Matt Jones (Aus) 66 70, Adam Hadwin (Can) 65 71, Brooks Koepka 68 68, Jim Furyk 67 69, Ian Poulter (Eng) 66 70, Billy Horschel 68 68, Kevin Kisner 67 69, Zac Blair 71 65

137 Jason Kokrak 67 70, Jason Dufner 68 69, Matthew NeSmith 70 67, Lucas Glover 67 70, Cameron Champ 66 71, Charles Howell III 70 67, Doc Redman 67 70, Tony Finau 68 69, Scottie Scheffler 68 69, Joaquin Niemann (Chi) 72 65, Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) 68 69, Patrick Reed 68 69

138 Brian Stuard 68 70, Adam Schenk 66 72, Bud Cauley 71 67, Viktor Hovland (Nor) 70 68, Andrew Landry 68 70, Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 67 71, Bronson Burgoon 68 70, Richy Werenski 72 66, Talor Gooch 68 70, Pat Perez 69 69, Chris Kirk 68 70, Zach Johnson 72 66, Alex Noren (Swe) 67 71, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 69 69, Chesson Hadley 70 68, Scott Piercy 67 71, Keegan Bradley 69 69, Denny McCarthy 70 68, Maverick McNealy 69 69, Keith Mitchell 67 71, Jhonattan Vegas (Ven) 64 74

The following players did not make the cut:

139 Henrik Norlander (Swe) 70 69, Graeme McDowell (NIrl) 69 70, Sepp Straka (Aut) 66 73, John Senden (Aus) 69 70, Tom Lehman 65 74, Matt Kuchar 71 68, Harris English 72 67, Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) 70 69, Kevin Na 72 67, Max Homa 70 69, Sergio Garcia (Spa) 69 70, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa) 69 70

140 Bernhard Langer (Ger) 70 70, Scott Brown 69 71, Matt Wallace (Eng) 70 70, Vaughn Taylor 66 74, Sung Kang (Kor) 72 68, Tom Lewis (Eng) 72 68, Tyler McCumber 72 68, Kevin Streelman 69 71, Danny Lee (Nzl) 70 70, Phil Mickelson 69 71, Jon Rahm (Spa) 69 71, Mackenzie Hughes (Can) 69 71, Jim Herman 72 68, Ryan Moore 66 74

141 Brian Gay 72 69, Nate Lashley 72 69, Doug Ghim 71 70, Cameron Davis (Aus) 73 68, Si Woo Kim (Kor) 69 72, Wyndham Clark 71 70, Marc Leishman (Aus) 69 72, Sebastian Munoz (Col) 71 70, Brice Garnett 67 74

142 Steve Stricker 73 69, Jason Day (Aus) 70 72, Charley Hoffman 71 71, Andy Ogletree 73 69, Webb Simpson 73 69, Dustin Johnson 71 71, Chad Campbell 72 70, Cameron Smith (Aus) 69 73, Adam Long 75 67, Brendon Todd 69 73, Cheng-Tsung Pan (Tai) 72 70, Dylan Frittelli (Rsa) 70 72, Rickie Fowler 73 69, Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa) 72 70

143 Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 73 70, Scott McCarron 71 72, Patton Kizzire 74 69, Danny Willett (Eng) 71 72, Chez Reavie 71 72

144 Andrew Putnam 73 71, Carlos Ortiz (Mex) 69 75, Ryan Palmer 72 72, Brendan Steele 71 73, J.J. Henry 75 69, Shane Lowry (Irl) 71 73, Troy Merritt 73 71, Josh Teater 72 72

145 Nick Watney 71 74, Robby Shelton 69 76, Bill Haas 70 75, Victor Perez (Fra) 71 74, Kyoung-hoon Lee (Kor) 72 73

146 Kramer Hickok 69 77, Jimmy Walker 70 76, Russell Knox (Sco) 75 71, Tom Hoge 72 74

147 Sam Ryder 76 71, Franklin Corpening 71 76

149 Kevin Tway 73 76

150 Xinjun Zhang (Chn) 74 76, Beau Hossler 74 76, Scott Harrington 76 74, Lanto Griffin 77 73

152 Olin Browne 74 78

155 David Frost (Rsa) 77 78, Keith Clearwater 76 79

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