LYTHAM – Rory McIlroy all but blew away his chances of a first British Open victory in Friday's second round, but insisted he could still make up enough lost ground at the weekend to win a second major.
The 23-year-old Ulsterman was out of sorts all day at a damp and cold Royal Lytham, firing three bogeys and one double bogey against two birdies to come in with a five-over par 75.
That left him at two over for the tournament and just under the projected line for the cut.
“It wasn't the best day out there,” he agreed.
“I was doing pretty well just to hang in there around par on the front nine. And making a double on the ninth there was sort of the turning point in the round and I couldn't really recover from that.”
McIlroy started steadily enough, but the first sign that things were not quite right came on the third when he nearly clobbered the caddie of Japan's Toshinori Muto who was standing at the side of the fourth tee.
The Irishman got a lucky break as his ball stayed on the tee area instead of rolling down into the thick rough at the side of it, but he was still unable to get down in two from there and dropped his first stroke.
On the par-three ninth he hit into a deep bunker and took two to get out of sand saturated by heavy overnight rain. His second effort sailed past the hole and he took two putts from there.
McIlroy had a couple of birdie chances in the finishing stretch, but this time it was his putter that let him down as came off trailing leader Brandt Snedeker, who was still on the course, by 12 strokes at that stage.
Still the World No. 2 said that he was not out of it yet.
“Obviously Snedeker is a little bit ahead at the minute, but I feel like if I can maybe get it back to where I was at the start of the day today, somewhere around there, three, four under going into Sunday, I think I'd still have a great chance,” he said.
Asked about an incident during Thursday's opening round when his drive hit a teennage boy on the head and bounced out of bounds at the 15th, McIlroy said that he had paid for him to spend a night in a hotel.
“I thought it was the least I could do,” he said.
“I didn't want him sleeping the night in a tent when he's got a massive gash in the side of his head.
“I put him and his mate up for the night and gave them a bit of cash to go for a bit of food last night.
“I actually tried to get them into the hotel for a couple more nights, but they were just fully booked, so last night was the only night they got to spend.
“But as I said, it was the least I could do. If someone gave me a big hole in my head, I wouldn't be too happy.” – Sapa-AFP