FARMINGDALE, N.Y. – Through three holes Friday at the PGA Championship Rory McIlroy had one foot out of the door at Bethpage Black.
A wild drive and a bad decision led to a double bogey at his opening hole (No. 10). He kept the theme going with a bogey at the 11th hole and when he needed four shots to reach the 12th green on his way to his second double bogey at No. 12 he was four shots outside the cut and fading fast.
When the 2012 and ’14 PGA champion finally limped his way up the 18th fairway at 5 over for the day a rally seemed unlikely.
“I said to [caddie Harry Diamond] going up the 18th, ‘Let's not shoot any worse than I shot yesterday [2-over 72]. Let's make 72 the worst score we're going to shoot,’” McIlroy said. “It was nice to go one better than that and shoot 1 over in the end.”
McIlroy began his comeback with a 13-footer for birdie at the fourth, added two more at Nos. 5 and 6 and made one of seven birdies from the early wave at the par-3 eighth hole to secure his spot in the field on the weekend with a 71 and a 3-over total.
“I was just trying to play a good round of golf and try to get something that's close to the best out of myself,” he said. “I don't like missing cuts. It's not something that I'm used to fortunately, and I wanted to be around for the weekend.”
McIlroy will need to continue that momentum going into the weekend if he’s going to have any chance with leader Brooks Koepka pulling away from the field at 9 under par early in his second round.