Thursday, February 29, 2024

McIlroy happy with par position at British Open

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SANDWICH: Rory Mclroy said before the British Open started that he would settle to be level par at the halfway stage, and that is exactly where he is after adding a 69 on Friday to his first round of 71.

It was, for the second day running, a mixed bag from the US Open champion, who is seeking to emulate Tiger Woods in adding the British crown to the US one four weeks afterwards.

Out in one under 34, the 22-year-old Ulsterman blew hot and cold down the back nine in cooler evening conditions, and had to save par with an 18-foot putt at the last to stay to par for the tournament.

That left him four shots off the lead and handily placed for the weekend.

It had been, he agreed, a grind of a round.

“Even though it was nice and it was sunny and it looked nice out there, it was very tricky,” he said.

“The course is playing a lot firmer, a lot of cross winds, and to shoot something in the 60s today I’m very pleased with.

“It would have been nicer to be a couple better, but I’ll take that going into the weekend. I’m very happy with my position and within striking distance of the leaders.”

Following his US Open win and in the absence of the injured Tiger Woods McIlroy is the tournament favourite and the biggest draw for the crowds swarming over the Royal St George’s links.

Thursday’s first round was his first competitive play since winning the US Open at Congressional Country Club, and the three weeks layoff did leave some elements of rust on his game evidence of which were botched drives at eight and 10 that both resulted in bogeys.

It means that McIlroy finds himself in a different position to what he was in at the same stage during the year’s first two Majors – The Masters and the US Open – where he led at the halfway stage.

This time, he is poised to strike behind the leaders, a position that he relishes.

“I think you’ll see a lot of chopping and changing at the top of the leaderboard, but it’s the most open Open I’ve seen in a long time,” he said.

“I think it’ll be exciting to be a part of and it’ll be exciting to watch over the next two days.

“It really depends on what the weather gives us. I can’t go out and be defensive, especially now.

“But four shots in 36 holes on this golf course in these conditions is nothing. It really isn’t.

“I’m very happy with my position, and I just need to keep doing the same things I’ve been doing.” (Agencies)

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