British Open 2016

McIlroy happy still to be in the hunt after surviving unlucky draw on grim Troon afternoon

Late starters faced desperate conditions on Scottish coast

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 July, 2016, 11:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 July, 2016, 11:00am

Rory McIlroy said he remained optimistic about his British Open chances after surviving often desperate conditions during his second round at Royal Troon on Friday.

The Northern Irishman was one of very few players starting after midday to avoid going over par for the round, his level-par 71 keeping him just about in contention.

After a two-under-par first round on Thursday, McIlroy has a lot of work to do to catch Phil Mickelson, who leads at 10-under, but he sees reason for hope.

“I’m quite happy with my two rounds of golf. I feel like I’ve played very well. I kept it together in the conditions quite well,” McIlroy said.

The 2014 Open champion endured an inconsistent day, with three birdies in his opening eight holes, four bogeys in five holes from the ninth, and then a birdie at 16.

However, his hopes of building on a promising start to the round were scuppered by the elements as the rain fell and the wind whipped in from the sea.

“On the back nine I had a bit of a bad run around the turn, you know, missed two short putts in a row on nine and 10. But I held it together nicely coming in, and played the last five holes at one under par. So anything around even par right there this afternoon was a decent score.”

Any player looking to contend at this year’s Open has needed the luck of the draw, with those out on the course in the afternoon on Friday struggling in conditions far worse than in the morning when Mickelson and Henrik Stenson, who shot 65, took advantage.

But McIlroy remained philosophical.

“It’s the Open Championship. Some draws go your way and some draws don’t.

“But I just said out there, I’m not going to let being on the wrong side ruin my mood or ruin my week. I feel like I’ve played very well and that gives me optimism going into the weekend.

“And I played the front nine well especially. So if I can get off to a similar start tomorrow (Saturday) and get a little closer to the leaders, play the back nine a little better, you never know.”

Mickelson has played some of his finest golf over the last two days but McIlroy has history when it comes to fighting back to win.

“I’m eight shots back. I’m trying to be as optimistic as I can, I guess,” said the four-time major winner.

“I can draw on memories of being in similar positions going into weekends and having won. But this is a little different. It’s the Open Championship and the conditions are a little tougher.”