Rory McIlroy admitted his shock at still being in contention to lift the Wanamaker Trophy for the third time.
The Northern Irishman has been well below his best, both on the course and off, but once again displayed no shortage of grit on Friday at the PGA Championship to recover from two early bogeys to post a one-under 69 that has him within five heading into the weekend at Oak Hill.
“I think how terribly I’ve felt over the golf ball over the last two days, the fact that I’m only five back – not saying it could be up there with one of my best performances, but when I holed that putt at the last, I looked at the board, and I thought, ‘I can’t believe I’m five back’,” McIlroy said.
“I guess that’s a good thing because I know if I can get it in play off the tee, that’s the key to my success over the weekend. If I can get the ball in play off the tee, I’ll have a shot.”
McIlroy has cut a frustrated figure so far at the second men’s Major of the year. Not only has he been fighting illness, but he’s also been attempting to beat one of the strongest fields in golf with one hand tied behind his back.
What was once his greatest weapon has become a wavering liability, with McIlroy continuing to struggle off the tee with the dreaded two-way miss at a venue that has been compared to two brutal American layouts: Winged Foot and Bethpage Black.
He’s been aiming left on most tees and attempting to play a little cut, but suggested he may take a different approach on the weekend with nothing to lose and everything to gain as he attempts to hunt down Corey Conners, Scottie Scheffler and Viktor Hovland.
“When I’m working on the range, I hardly miss a shot on the range, and then it’s just trying to get it to go from the range to the golf course that I’m finding difficult,” McIlroy added
“I think at this point I might just tee it high and just bomb it everywhere. I tried to hit that little cut off the tee on 16, and it nearly went OB. I hit my last two tee shots on 17 and 18 really hard, and they actually were really good tee shots.
“Every hole one side is sort of trouble and one side is not. As long as you’re missing it in the right spots off the tees, I might as well just go for it and swing hard at it.”
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