SOUTHPORT, England – There are times at The Open when scorecards should come with subtitles.
Rory McIlroy’s week has been like that. His opening 71 appeared straightforward enough, but when you consider the Northern Irishman started his week with five bogeys through his first six holes the need for more detail is obvious.
Friday was a similarly complicated round. This time he was 3 under through his first six, eight strokes better than he was on that stretch on Day 1, on his was to a 2-under 68. But that doesn’t account for the 10-foot par save at the 10th, the 15-footer at the 11th or his textbook bunker shot at No. 12 for another par save.
“Huge,” McIlroy said of his scrambling. “They're the putts that haven't quite been going in over the past few weeks. That's all it takes to keep a round going, and to see those putts go in on 10 and 11 gives me a lot of confidence going into the weekend.”
McIlroy’s 68 was the second-best round from the early wave and left him just outside the top 10 when he completed his round, three strokes off the clubhouse lead held by Matt Kuchar.
However he arrived there, the world’s fourth-ranked player’s total is a marked improvement over where his game had been coming into The Open. McIlroy had missed three of his last four cuts before arriving at Royal Birkdale and was clearly pleased with his position despite the circumstances that put him there.
“There was a lot of quality out there and I was happy to see that. Just have to try to keep that going for the next two days,” McIlroy said.