MEDINAH, Ill. – Rory McIlroy said twice Friday afternoon that he hasn’t had his best stuff through 36 holes at the BMW Championship.
And yet he finds himself 8 under par, just four off the pace set by Hideki Matusyama.
To hear McIlroy tell it, he’s been faking it ‘til he makes it through two days here at Medinah. But he finally flashed some of his best stuff late Friday and agrees more could be around the corner.
“That’s how it feels,” he said.
McIlroy backed up an opening 69 with a 5-under 67 on Day 2 to move into a tie for 11th outside Chicago. He got off to what he called a “sketchy start," bogeying the first and finding just two greens in his first seven holes.
It was an up-and-down from the sand at the 615-yard, par-5 seventh that allowed him to “right the ship” and get moving up the leaderboard the rest of the afternoon. He added another birdie at the ninth to make the turn in 1 under and four more on the back to come home in 32.
“I think that birdie on 7 just got me going a little bit and then especially the birdie on 9,” he said. “I think the way I played the front nine, to play it under par, I thought was pretty good and then I guess that gives me a little bit of encouragement going into the back nine.
“But I hit better shots. I was a bit more committed to some of the shots I hit. I hit a great 8-iron into 17 there and hit a lovely 9-iron into the last. If I'm going to bed tonight thinking of something that I needed to do better going into the weekend, I just need to think of those two shots.”
The No. 3 course has been rather soft this week, offering up conditions that usually play into McIlroy’s hands. The layout also gives him multiple opportunities to use his length to his advantage, be it cutting corners or capitalizing on a short par-4 like the 15th, which he’s birdied each day.
“With the soft conditions, just plays into those longer hitters' hands even more,” he said.
McIlroy has two wins, a runner-up and 13 total top-10s in 17 PGA Tour starts, and yet his season somehow feels like a disappointment. He’s put himself in contention to win so many times that when he hasn’t, usually via a lackluster Sunday, the focus has been more on what he hasn’t accomplished than what he has.
Entering the week third in the FedExCup standings, he’s in position to potentially take the season-long title for a second time. He’ll have a chance this weekend at capturing his 17th career Tour title, his fifth postseason victory and his third win this year.
Quote the four-time major winner: “You know, as I had said, I feel like I haven't had my best stuff this week, but I'm still in there with a chance going into the weekend.”