Published: Sat, July 22, 2017
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

A scolding and a comeback for Rory McIlroy — Sports Talk

A scolding and a comeback for Rory McIlroy — Sports Talk

If Rory McIlroy's best is as good as it gets, his worst is just about ugly as it comes.

That speaks to a broader picture of the 146th edition of the British Open, which starts Thursday at Royal Birkdale.

"That stretch - 10, 11 and 12 - just to keep the momentum going and keep the round going, they were all huge". McIlroy kept his, however. But after that sixth hole, McIlroy started to turn things around.

But Fitzgerald stepped in and sorted his man out with a tongue lashing and now the Northern Irishman sits on one over after being five over through six. He had played his way into trouble and out of it again.

McIlroy has not been the best starter in recent majors.

He bogeyed the opening hole - hardly a sin, considering how hard it played Thursday - then bogeyed three of the next four.

Matt Kuchar, after his five-under front nine and all-par back nine on Thursday, was walking gingerly and finished with 71. It was not that he fell apart, more that he did not have it together to begin with. He won the final two majors of the year, with a World Golf Championship title in between.

Charl Schwartzel - playing alongside McIlroy and Dustin Johnson - briefly claimed a share of the lead with a birdie at the fourth, only to then double bogey the fifth and drop another shot at the sixth. At the 4th he had to splash out of a bunker and then missed a 10ft putt on the left.

By the end of the halfway stage, only the hardiest of golfers would survive because they would have made fewer errors and stayed focussed in adverse conditions.

"I got off to a good start, which I think is important", added McIlroy, who rejected suggestions he had shown great strength of character to get into the position he is. "Those thoughts ran through my mind".

SOUTHPORT, England - Rory McIlroy had no confidence.

His caddie, J.P. Fitzgerald, had seen this before too and decided enough was enough. He was not the only one wondering.

"You're Rory McIlroy", Fitzgerald told him, with maybe a few more colorful words included.

"It definitely helped, it kept me positive", McIlroy said. "So as I say, good week to back me".

"I'm happy to be in the clubhouse and happy to be on a good score".

The problem, McIlroy said, was all mental. The round was shaping up to be the nadir of a rough year.

He has missed the cut in three of his past four events - the US Open, Irish Open and Scottish Open. "At least I feel I got myself back out of the hole I was in and get back into the tournament". Then at the 8th a switch flicked.

The hairline rib fracture he suffered in January during the South African Open is no longer an issue, but it forced him to sit out almost two months, and then he played only once in two months between the Masters and the U.S. Open in part because it was acting up. "There's a big difference between five over par and six over". "The back nine is playing really, really hard".

We'll see if that can come out on the course one more time. He made birdies at the 15th and 17th, and another at the 18th. "But because of the way I started, I actually feel really positive". It's a bit like the Ryder Cup at Medinah in 2012.

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