It was a tale of two rounds — or two nines — for Rory McIlroy. Following his spectacular nine-under 63 in the first round, McIlroy, who started on no. 10 Friday, quickly dropped out of the lead after struggling on his first nine, which included three consecutive double-bogeys. He posted seven-over 43 on the back nine.
Despite his rally on the front, he still shot 15 strokes worse than the previous day, with a six-over 78 in the second round of The Memorial.
Good news for McIlroy is that he went so low on Thursday that he’s not completely out of the tournament with a three-under 36-hole total. With the afternoon wave still on the course, Rory is currently tied for 17th.
While McIlroy tweaked his knee after playing his second shot on the 7th hole yesterday, he wasn’t making any excuses and didn’t attribute the injury to his high score today.
“The knee’s okay,” said Rory after his round. “It was a little sore this morning on the range because if I just keep hitting balls continuously and just keep torquing it, then it’s going to get sore.
“But out on the course it was fine. Painkillers kicked in. And it didn’t like I felt it a little bit, but didn’t really bother me too much.”
The difference between the two rounds was his driving accuracy. McIlroy, who found 10 of 14 fairways on Thursday, only hit four on Friday. He discovered the hard way that the rough at Muirfield Village is quite penal.
“I missed fairways,” said McIlroy. “That was a big thing. I didn’t realize how thick the rough was until I got in it today.”
He hit a decent drive on 10 (his starting hole), but it just rolled into the primary rough, so he couldn’t reach the green and made bogey.
“And then I just kept missing fairways and making it tough for myself.”
Secondly, prior to Rory’s hot streak the past week or so, he said he had been close, but had been making mistakes that botched up one of his nines and prevented him from coming closer to winning as of late. In fact, this is the fourth PGA Tour event in a row that Rory has posted a 40 or higher on nine holes. However, during his victory at Wentworth and the first round yesterday, he had managed to eliminate those little errors, which made a world of difference. Well, today, he retreated to stumbling on a few holes, like his three doubles in a row on nos. 13-15.
“Obviously that little three-hole stretch 13, 14, 15 didn’t help,” he said. “Take those three holes out of it, then it wouldn’t actually have been that bad a day.
“As I was saying yesterday, these little runs I’m getting on where it gets away from me, I was able to avoid that last week. Not so much this week.
But it’s not disastrous. Even though I had such a bad day, I’m still in with a chance depending on what the guys do this afternoon. Going into the weekend, not exactly where I want to be, but it could be worse.”
If you’re wondering why McIlroy received a penalty shot after a chip from the greenside rough on 15, it’s because he double-hit it. He said he could feel it right after he made contact and called the penalty on himself.
Rory will be looking for a better first nine on Saturday’s Moving Day to surge back into contention.
“I just need to get back out there tomorrow and get off to a good start,” he said. “That’s exactly what I didn’t do today. I didn’t get off to a good start. Sort of made things tough for myself.
“But seemed like anything that could sort of go wrong did go wrong out there with having double hit on 15 and hitting a couple of branches on 13, which were actually a couple of decent shots. Even the tee shot on 18 there, I felt like I had a good tee shot. Might have been a little too much club, but end up with a shot where I don’t have a shot to get to the green.”
“Hopefully that’s the bad run out of the way and I can play some good golf on the weekend and get myself back in with the shots.”
Just one of ‘dem days.