Rory McIlroy continued to bounce back from his US Open disappointment by positioning himself three shots off the halfway lead at the Travelers Championship.
The Northern Irishman, who missed the cut in the year’s second major at Shinnecock Hills last week after struggling to an opening 80, followed his first round 64 with a 69 at TPC River Highlands in Connecticut.
He had briefly tied the lead when he got to eight under after holing a 20-foot putt for his second birdie of the day at the second hole, but a late bogey left the four-time major winner three adrift of halfway leader Brian Harman.
McIlroy’s first birdie had come at the 296-yard 15th, where he drove into a greenside bunker and splashed out to six feet, but a bogey three holes from home dropped him back to seven under.
“I’m going to do a little bit of work on the range and try and get a little bit more comfortable for the weekend,” McIlroy told pgatour.com.
“If I can put the ball on the fairway and hit my irons as well as I have done the first couple of days I’ll give myself a lot of chances for birdies and it’s just about converting them and taking your opportunities.”
Matt Jones, Russell Henley and Zach Johnson were all one behind Harman, who shot a round of 66, while England’s Paul Casey moved into a share of fifth place on eight under after a 67, which included six birdies and three bogeys.
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However, overnight joint leader Jordan Spieth, also starting on the back nine, came unstuck in spectacular fashion at the 523-yard 13th after driving out of bounds and then hitting his approach into the greenside lake to card a triple-bogey eight.
He was in the water again at the 15th on his way to a bogey five which dropped him to three under but rescued his round with an eagle at the par-five sixth hole, having hit his approach inside two feet, to close with a 73 and finish four under.