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McIlroy rolls in Round 2, leads by 4 shots

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It was another day at Hoylake and another defense was added to the course’s repertoire. Not that Hoylake suddenly became U.S. Open tough.

The winds largely absent during the first round emerged on Friday, consistently blowing 15-to-20 mph early on and at a bit of a milder pace in the afternoon.

Maybe the elements weren’t quite the gale force conditions that met players at Royal Birkdale in 2008, but the extra kick of wind proved to be a bit disruptive.

The benign weather on Thursday netted 48 subpar rounds and 19 rounds in the 60s. Those numbers dropped on Friday with 38 players under par and 14 below 70.

The danger off the tee is still unwise to ignore. You can get away with some erratic driving for a time, but continue to search the full extent of Hoylake’s confines and the course will bite back hard and fast (See: Gorse and Woods, Tiger).

The course is the background though, with the players forming the championship narrative.

With that, we turn to the competitors making the most pressing Day Two headlines.

The Rory McIlroy Show (Again)

The charge of the youth brigade was powerful on Thursday, instigated by its leader, Rory McIlroy.

The minions (mostly) fell back on Day Two, but that didn’t stop Mclroy from grabbing for some more gold.

In this year’s previously one-sided McIlroy-Friday bout—not to mention the 80 he put up after leading the Open following 18 holes in 2010—the Northern Irishman landed a series of right hooks to his greatest nemesis in 2014. An opening bogey didn’t portend a promising day, but sometimes the first hole is an awful predictor.

McIlroy’s combination of excellent drives and loose approaches produced a net zero-over the next three holes, but he married the two thereafter and the man could not be stopped.

The 25-year-old two-putted for birdie on No. 5, lasered an approach to seven feet at the next for another and knocked it to eight feet on No. 8 for a third birdie in four holes. Now 8-under and two clear of the field, McIlroy capitalized on possibly his greatest attribute: whipping the competition into submission when he gets out ahead.

After missing a 12-footer on nine, McIlroy made a fantastic up-and-down from deep rough for birdie on the par-5 10th (even if he later admitted the chip shot was lucky).

A gorgeous tee shot on No. 15 to five feet yielded yet another birdie, a 396-yard drive on No. 17 pushed him toward another red number and a deft pitch and holed five-footer on the last capped off a second-round 66 that left him 12-under for the tournament.

In the end, McIlroy moved into the weekend with a four-shot lead. He missed a couple of golden opportunities in the beginning of the back nine but he also made great par saves at Nos. 14 and 16.

We all know by now that McIlroy possesses elite front running skills at major championships. He’s already blown out fields twice (at the 2011 U.S. Open and 2012 PGA Championship), so we must seriously consider the possibility that we are in a third rendering of this trend.

Pondering this outcome becomes more essential when you realize that McIlroy isn’t relying on extraordinary play from one part of his game.

His ball-striking for the most part has been severely in groove, potent to the max when in sync. But McIlroy has experienced brief spells of ineptitude on that end, be it from poor drives or lackasical irons, and his short game picked up the necessary slack.

The sole part of his game failing to qualify as a strength is his putting. The importance of the flatstick is minimized at the Open Championship though, and McIlroy’s work on the greens is merely average this week rather than a significant anchor.

Whatever McIlroy’s flaws, this isn’t a position he folds from. Even with a full 36 holes to go, it would be quite shocking if he doesn’t raise the Claret Jug on Sunday.  

Phil and Tiger (Especially) Fail to Inspire

Phil

Phil Mickelson’s round two performance was confusing, but nothing out of the norm for him.

Mickelson began the day 2-over and in need of a fantastic score to shove his name back into the mix. Those hopes immediately turned bleak.  Lefty hit his first three fairways, still missed the green twice and failed to convert on one of his par efforts. Now 3-over, Mickelson appeared to be fighting to survive the cut.

How was Mickelson going to remedy his woes when bullets down the middle weren’t doing any good? Simple. Just hit it way right!

The strategy netted unbelievably good results. He spun it back to inches for birdie on No. 4, nailed his second to 10 feet on the next hole and rolled in the eagle putt. Mickelson moved back into the fairway on No. 7 and stiffed his second to five feet.

About to be 3-under for the round, back in red numbers and in the midst of a serious Friday explosion, Mickelson inexplicably missed the shortie.

He lost his brief chance to post a spectacular score. A bogey at the next sapped his energy further and he closed with an uninspiring nine pars and one birdie for a 70.

Mickelson’s round went from potentially awful to tantalizingly outstanding to a decent result. Strange, and it puts him in the extremely desperate fringes of contention.

woods3

As for Woods, it was really a bitterly disappointing day. Windier conditions dictated more aggressive play from the tee box, but Woods pulled out drivers on his first two holes—a shocking deviation from his previous conservative driving strategy at Hoylake. The results were disastrous, as Woods started double bogey-bogey in the first two holes.

While Tiger wasn’t awful during the second round, his long game never clicked and the putter wasn’t particularly warm. After the second hole, that added up to 14 consecutive pars, a triple bogey and a birdie in posting a 5-over 77 that allowed him to make the cut on the number.

Maybe it’s not totally fair to stuff these two in the same category today, as Mickelson played easily better golf. But both are in the same position after 36 holes: returning for the weekend, but likely out of the running for the Claret Jug.

A mix of challengers behind McIlroy


George Coetzee, 5-under, has shot rounds of 70-69 and sits seven shots behind Rory McIlroy in a tie for 9th place. 

The leaderboard after 18 holes seemed to be dripping with bigger names and plenty of supreme talents continue their stay high on the leaderboard at Friday’s end, but the lot of the top positions have spread out more to golf’s middle men.

George Coetzee, a virtual unknown to many but in fact a solid European Tour winner from the South African golf factory, made the morning run, birdieing four of six holes on the back nine to race out to 6-under and tie for the lead before posting at one shot worse.

The Molinari brothers, firmly among the solid but unspectacular, are in contention still. Edoardo drifted back to 3-under but is tied for 14th and Francesco is in a tie for third at 6-under.

Marc Leishman (3-under) and Robert Karlsson (4-under) can put themselves in the thick of the hunt if McIlroy falters.

The big names up there are Adam Scott (3-under), Jim Furyk (5-under), Louis Oosthuizen (6-under), Charl Schwartzel (6-under), Sergio Garcia (6-under), Rickie Fowler (6-under) and Dustin Johnson (8-under). That’s four major champions, one of them a former Open Championship winner within nine.

When it comes to trying to chase down McIlroy, there are plenty of candidates in place. But I wouldn’t say it’s an overwhelmingly intimidating group attempting to wrestle Rory’s grip. And I don’t expect any of them to overthrow Rory in the end.

Stat of the Day: Phil Mickelson was 3-under when he missed the fairway and 1-over when he hit it. More specifically, Mickelson was 3-under on Nos. 4, 5 and 10. He got lucky with a trampled down lie on the fourth, but stuffing it to six inches was no easy task from there.

His lie was legitimately poor on No. 5, but he knocked it to 10 feet for eagle. AND HE HIT IT OUT OF BOUNDS ON THE 10TH! He then did the most Phil Mickelson thing ever and scored a par.

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Kevin's fascination with the game goes back as long as he can remember. He has written about the sport on the junior, college and professional levels and hopes to cover its proceedings in some capacity for as long as possible. His main area of expertise is the PGA Tour, which is his primary focus for GolfWRX. Kevin is currently a student at Northwestern University, but he will be out into the workforce soon enough. You can find his golf tidbits and other sports-related babble on Twitter @KevinCasey19. GolfWRX Writer of the Month: September 2014

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: McIlroy rolls in Round 2, leads by 4 shots | Spacetimeandi.com

  2. David

    Jul 18, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    Another major is a joke, course is way to easy for those guys. BORING, BORING, BOOOOORING…

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Tour Photo Galleries

Wedge Stamping Caviar: “The Traditional” Edition

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Pop open a tin of the finest beluga, GolfWRXers…But really, it’s less jelly-like substance, more richness of intrigue than salt-cured roe at Wedge Stamping Caviar as we present to you some of the finest instances of hammer-and-stamp work on the PGA Tour we spotted over the past couple of weeks.

Grab your mother-of-pearl spoon and dig in — with restraint, please. And be sure to check out the rest of our tour photo galleries when you’re done.

Patrick Reed with a fine articulation of what we’re calling “The Traditional” wedge stamping: First and last initials, usually in white or black. 

Here’s The Traditional on Keith Mitchell’s Mizuno T22 wedge as well as a slab o’ wedge tape positioned to raise CG.  

Tyler Duncan’s Traditional stamping on his Vokey SM10 also includes a note about head weight in Sharpie. 

The Traditional, again, this time for Cam Smith on his Vokey SM10 in Jet Black.  

Jason Dufner’s Cobra’s SB wedge bears his initials, JD.

A variation on The Traditional, Lee Hodges’ initials are surrounded by “RTR,” as is usually the case on his wedges — Roll Tide Roll!

Phil Mickelson’s PM Grind wedge has a saucy little 64 stamped on the toe and a slab of lead near the toe peak. 

John Rahm’s Callaway Jaws Forged wedge featured the motto of his LIV Golf squad, Legion XIII.

John Daly’s Sub 70 wedge is superb, featuring the logo of his alma mater, the University of Arkansas. WPS! 

Check out our tour photo galleries here.

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Equipment

Photos from the 2024 Charles Schwab Challenge

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GolfWRX is live this week at Colonial Country Club for the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Custom Camerons and some “super” new grips from SuperStroke are filling our galleries early in the week as well as WITBs — including the always interesting “Cashmere Keith” Mitchell.

Check out links to our photos below, which we’ll continue to update throughout the week.

And while you’re making your way through our photos, be sure to check out last year’s incredible gallery of prototype and personal Ben Hogan golf clubs.

General Albums

WITB Albums

Pullout Albums

See what GolfWRXers are saying in the forums.

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Tour Photo Galleries

Photos from the 2024 PGA Championship

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GolfWRX is on site this week at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, for the PGA Championship.

While we see fewer equipment changes and new gear seeding at major championships, we get a look at custom gear and looks into the bags of players we rarely see, which is just as exciting. In the case of the PGA Championship, this means a look at the gear some of the PGA Professionals who qualified for the tournament will be gaming, and LIV players, such as Jon Rahm and Patrick Reed.

Check out links to all our albums from Valhalla below and check back throughout the week as we continue to update.

General Albums

WITB Albums

Pullout Albums

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