US Open 2024: Rory McIlroy in ‘great position’ to challenge for fifth major despite ‘frustrating’ second round | Golf News

Rory McIlroy insists he is in a great position to end his decade-long major drought despite failing to build on his fast start to the US Open at Pinehurst No 2.

McIlroy grabbed a share of the early lead alongside Patrick Cantlay after carding five birdies an opening-round 65, then followed it up with a two-over 72 in tougher scoring conditions on Friday morning.

The Northern Irishman only carded one birdie and made three bogeys during his second round, dropping him back to three under, as world No 1 and playing partner Scottie Scheffler struggled to a four-over 74 to leave himself waiting to see whether he would make the cut.

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Rory McIlroy made an incredible par save on the 17th hole at Pinehurst No 2 after initially de-greening his birdie putt.

McIlroy has won each of the previous three majors where he made a bogey-free start and has made top-10 finishes in his last five US Open finishes, with the 35-year-old firmly in contention once again heading into the weekend.

“Obviously, not quite as well as yesterday, but I feel like the golf course plays a little more difficult, even though we were off in the morning,” McIlroy said. “Some of the hole locations were definitely a little tougher and you sort of had to have your wits about you.

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, reacts after missing a putt on the fourth hole during the second round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Friday, June 1 4, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Rory McIlroy was playing alongside Xander Schauffele and Scottie Scheffler over the first two days

“I putted it off one green there on 17. Overall, I felt like I did a pretty good job at keeping some of the mistakes off the scorecard. I wish I had converted a couple more of the chances. Hit the ball pretty well. I think I only missed one fairway, so I had plenty of opportunities.

“Yeah, wasn’t quite as good with the putter today. Still, overall in a great position going into the weekend.”

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, waves after making a putt on the 12th hole during the second round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Friday, June 14, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)
Rory McIlroy is in contention to claim a first major victory since 2014

Mixed day for McIlroy at Pinehurst

McIlroy – beginning on the back nine – failed to take advantage of the par-five 10th, after missing his 12-foot birdie, then carded his first bogey of the week when his approach into the par-four next spun off the green and he was unable to get up and down.

The Northern Irishman ended a run of two-putt pars with a bogey at the par-three 15th, where his tee shot rolled off the putting surface, with McIlroy bouncing back from putting off the green at the par-three 17th to chip in for a miraculous par.

McIlroy came close from 10 feet at the first and then finally made his first birdie of the day at the third, then scrambled a par at the par-five fifth after watching his playing partners see balls roll back to their feet and both card double-bogeys.

“That back left hole location on five is pretty treacherous,” McIlroy said. “If you miss it left there at all, obviously you saw what Xander [Schauffele] and Scottie [Scheffler] did. After sealing their two attempts, I was pretty happy with mine just to get it over the other side of the green and get it up-and-down for five.”

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Several of the world’s best players struggled at the par-five fifth hole at Pinehurst No 2 during the second round of the US Open.

McIlroy recovered from missing the sixth fairway to avoid bogeying the par-three and then two-putted his next two holes for par to stay within one, only to bogey the ninth – his final hole of the day – after finding the sand off the tee.

“I was two over pretty early,” McIlroy added. “My goal going into that second nine was if I could get it back to even for the day, I would have been pretty happy. Got that birdie on three, I was trying to claw one back there, then ultimately I gave one back again.

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“With the way the golf course is and the way some of those hole locations are, I don’t see anyone running away with it.”

Faldo: Game of survival ahead of McIlroy

McIlroy said ahead of the tournament he wanted to become the most successful European player in history, with Sir Nick Faldo – who holds six majors – believing the world No 3 is capable this week of securing a fifth major victory.

“Rory has just got to find a way to slow this down,” Faldo told Sky Sports. “He drives the course beautifully and is a great thinker, but he knows the weekend will be tough. They [the USGA] wanted just in the red to win this, so he is right there.

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, applies sunscreen on the 14th hole during the second round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Friday, June 14, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)
Rory McIlroy heads into the weekend on three under

“It is going to be a game of survival. Watch the others, it is highly unlikely someone is going to scream out there. You just don’t waste any shots – birdies are really tough to get, it is more defending, being smart, so you just avoid making too many bogeys.

“You have got to look at the other guys and go ‘do you know what, I have either got one name I have got to beat or I am good, I have just got to relax and play and I know I am that good’. He is physically fit as a fiddle, isn’t he, great shape. When he is on, he is the best in the world. He has just got to keep doing that as much as possible.”

Who will win the third men’s major of the year? Watch the US Open live on Sky Sports. Live coverage of the third round begins on Saturday from 3pm on Sky Sports Golf. Stream the US Open and more with NOW.

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