Rory McIlroy revives WGC hopes with encouraging finish to second day


Rory McIlroy revived his challenge at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational with birdies at the final two holes to get within three of the halfway lead.

Rory McIlroy lifted his spirits with an encouraging birdie-birdie finish to his second round which revived his challenge at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

McIlroy hit only four fairways on day two at Firestone and made a number of misjudgements with wedges into the greens, but he stayed patient and salvaged an “eventful” 67 with threes at 17 and 18.

The 29-year-old, who lifted the title in Akron four years ago, holed a perfect bunker escape for birdie at 17 and finally managed to control the distance with a wedge approach to the last, clipping it to four feet to set up his fifth gain of the day.

McIlroy admitted it was frustrating to be only one under for the day as he stood on the 17th tee, but he will now go into the weekend on eight under par and just three behind leaders Ian Poulter, Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Thomas.

0:13 McIlroy's narrow escape

“It was an eventful last few holes, an adventure to say the least,” he said. “I was one under standing on the 17th tee and I think if I had finished one under, it would have felt like the worst I could have shot today. So to get those two birdies on the last two holes is obviously very nice and get a couple closer to the lead.

“I just felt with some of the drives I hit on the back nine and where I was leaving it, I should have been giving myself chances for birdies and not having to scramble for par.

“My wedge play, in terms of direction, they were pretty good, but my distance just wasn’t. I hit it way down there on the eighth hole and left myself 30 feet. I hit it way down there on 13, left myself 30 feet. And I flew the green on 10 after hitting a good drive.

“There were three holes that I should have had birdie chances and I played them in one over. So I need a little bit of work on that, but I’m still in with a good chance. I’m only three behind heading into the weekend and I’m in a good position.”

Tiger Woods, meanwhile, was two strokes further adrift on six under and targeting a Saturday charge after adding a 68 to his opening 66 while also struggling to find the short grass from the tee.

The eight-time champion hit back from a bogey at the first with three birdies over the next four holes, and he picked up another shot after threatening the flag with a sublime tee shot at the short 12th.

But he needed four fours just to reach the putting surface at the 14th and could only par his way in, and he said: The golf course is playing very soft, very receptive, and tomorrow’s going to be one of those days I’m going to have to go out there and post a low one and see what happens.

“I play the golf course for what it is and that’s about as aggressive as I’ll ever play this place. It’s imperative to hit the ball in the fairway here because the rough is thick, but then again, you hit the ball in the fairway you know that you can flag some iron shots, they won’t roll very far.

“So it’s imperative for me to get the ball in play and if I’m there, go ahead and attack.”

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