Rory McIlroy battles back into contention at PGA Championship

The world No 10, still hurting after scrapping his planned wedding to tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, posted a one-under-par 71 in the PGA Championship second round to finish in a challenging position on five-under 139.
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks on the 16th hole during day two of the PGA Championship at Wentworth on May 23, 2014 in Virginia Water, England.  (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks on the 16th hole during day two of the PGA Championship at Wentworth on May 23, 2014 in Virginia Water, England. (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Winds gusted at up to 29kph and spectators sought to avoid the driving rain at every opportunity, but a sopping-wet West Course at Wentworth provided a golfing sanctuary for Rory McIlroy on Friday.

The Northern Irishman, still hurting after scrapping his planned wedding to tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, posted a one-under-par 71 in the PGA Championship second round to finish in a challenging position on five-under 139.

“Once you get inside the ropes you’re concentrating on your golf and it’s almost like four or five hours of a release to get everything out of your head apart from doing the job at hand,” McIlroy said at the European Tour’s flagship event.

“It’s nice. It’s the hours in the day when you’re away from it that are probably a little more difficult. You can’t let your mind wander at all when you’re trying to win a golf tournament.”

McIlroy did not make the best of starts, mixing two bogeys and a double bogey with a solitary birdie in the opening seven holes.

The world No 10, though, eagled the par-five 12th for the second successive day before rebounding from a dropped stroke at the 13th with a dynamic sequence of three birdies in the last four holes.

“Even the way the conditions were, three-over after seven wasn’t great but it wasn’t disastrous,” said McIlroy.

“I knew I had some chances coming on the back nine. It’s sort of been a characteristic of my game for the last few weeks, and I knew that I would be OK.”

Wentworth has never been a happy hunting ground for the former world No 1. He has missed the cut in three out of six starts in the tournament and has a best finish of tied fifth in 2009. “Five-under-par going into the weekend, when the conditions are pretty tricky, is a good effort,” McIlroy said. “I stood here yesterday saying I would be happy to make the cut and I’m in for the weekend which is nice. Hopefully I can make a run at it.

“I feel like I’m playing well enough to shoot something in the mid-60s, maybe not tomorrow as the weather doesn’t look too good, but I’m playing well enough to get myself in the mix going into Sunday.”

Much of the field was struggling to finish the round before dark.

Earlier, Tony Jacklin, who won two major titles, urged McIlroy to take a lead from world No 1 Adam Scott and keep his own counsel on some of his off-the-course issues.

McIlroy and Wozniacki seemed to play out their two-and-a-half-year relationship in the glare of the worldwide media spotlight. Scott, by contrast, got married in secret last month to long-time girlfriend and Swedish architect Marie Kojzar.

“Whatever happens to Rory in the future I think he needs to be a bit more like Adam Scott and not let on so much to the outside world,” said Jacklin, 69.

“Maybe he needs to keep his private life more private. If it’s the right decision it’s behind him now. He can move on very quickly so it might not be a bad thing.”

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Published: May 23, 2014 04:00 AM

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