McIlroy surges and slips, three back in S. Africa

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Rory McIlroy started slowly and finished poorly, but was brilliant in between, in Round 2 of the BMW South African Open.

McIlroy shot 4-under 68 on Friday and enters the weekend at 9 under par, three back of leader Graeme Storm (63).

McIlroy, who opened in 5-under 67, was one off the lead after Day 1 at Glendower Golf Club in Johannesburg, South Africa. But he almost didn't tee off on Day 2.

McIlroy told reporters after his round that he almost withdrew because of a back injury.

"I thought about pulling out before teeing off today," he said. "I tweaked my back somehow and the first few shots today weren’t very comfortable."

McIlroy began his day with a bogey on his second hole and a double bogey on his fourth hole and, at that point, he was nine in arrears. He steadied himself with pars over his next three holes, and then he took off.

McIlroy eagled the par-5 eighth, birdied the par-4 ninth, birdied the par-4 10th, and then birdied Nos. 12-15. He one-putted each green in that eight-hole stretch of scoring.

McIlroy was one off the lead, but a two-putt bogey at the par-3 17th dropped him two back. He hit his approach shot to the par-4 18th into a greenside bunker and the ball settled in the sand. He was unable to get up and down for par to drop two shots over his final two holes.