NORTON, Mass. – Rory McIlroy straddled the cut line coming home Saturday in the second round of the Deutsche Bank Championship, but he assured himself two more rounds with a closing birdie.
The world No. 1 struggled to a 3-over-par 74 in the second leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs and finds himself tied for 59th, 14 shots off the lead.
“I’m rusty,” McIlroy said. “I think it shows that I haven't really played much competitive golf. When I've given myself opportunities to get it close, then I'm not making putts. And I think I've had four three-putts in two days.”
McIlroy is making just his second start since returning from a ruptured ligament in his left ankle, an injury that kept him away from tournament play for six weeks.
McIlroy regained the world No. 1 ranking this week from Jordan Spieth, but even with Spieth missing the cut at the Deutsche Bank, McIlroy needs a strong finish to avoid losing the top spot again. McIlroy will only hold on to the No. 1 ranking if he finishes solo 10th or better and No. 3 Jason Day doesn’t win. If McIlroy doesn’t finish among the top 10 and Day doesn’t win, Spieth moves back to No. 1.
McIlroy didn’t seem to care much about the rankings after signing his scorecard.
“That's not quite on my mind right now,” he said. “I just have to try to get my game in better shape. I know which parts of the game are pretty good, and I know which parts I need to work on. I've got two days coming up to try and do that and another off week to practice on a few things and try and go to Chicago in better shape.”
After a week off, the FedEx Cup Playoffs move to Conway Farms outside Chicago.
McIlroy hit nine of 14 fairways Saturday and hit 14 greens in regulation, but he took 34 putts. He missed a 3-footer for par at the 13th, and he three putted the 17th.
“If you look at the bigger picture, it's my second tournament in 10 weeks,” McIlroy said. “I'm just trying to play myself into better form. So I'm not concerned, but I think the good thing is I know what I need to work on.”