Thanks to back-to-back rounds of 66, Rory McIlroy sits at 12-under par and leads the 143rd Open Championship by four shots at Royal Liverpool. McIlroy's second round not only brought an end to his recent Friday struggles but also provided some potentially positive signs for his weekend as the 25-year-old Ulsterman looks to lock down his third major championship.
The following facts and figures come courtesy the Golf Channel editorial research unit:
• This is McIlroy's third outright 36-hole lead in a major championship. He would go on to lose the 2011 Masters after a horrific back 9 on Sunday but rebound just two months later to run away with the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional for his major victory.
• This is the second time McIlroy has held the outright lead through Rounds 1 and 2 at a major. Rory led six over Y.E. Yang at Congressional and ultimately won by eight over Jason Day.
• McIlroy made only one bogey or worse through two rounds at Congressional, a double at the 18th on Friday, and has only one through 36 at Hoylake, a bogey at the first on Friday.
• Speaking to his Friday struggles this year, McIlroy entered the day a combined 9 over in the second round in 2014.
• Things have been especially bad when he's held the overnight lead through 18. The last two times he had done so, he posted second-round 78s. He shaved 12 shots off the mark with his 66 Friday.
• Finally, McIlroy just hasn't played well at the Open the past few years. Since finishing T-3 in 2010, he's gone T-25, T-60 and MC. Dating back to his Friday 75 in 2012, McIlroy entered this week a combined 23 in his last five rounds at the open. He's 12 under through 36 this week.