Now on board with the Olympics, Rory McIlroy in full flight at Summer Games in Tokyo

Rory McIlroy didn’t know what he’d get out of the week but he’s in a much better place than he was two weeks ago in England.

Now on board with the Olympics, Rory McIlroy in full flight at Summer Games in Tokyo

Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy quickly warmed to the Summer Games shortly after arriving in Tokyo.

It took him a little bit longer to heat up in the men’s golf competition.

While McIlroy was a bit reluctant to play in the Olympics, the winner of the Wells Fargo Championship earlier this year has been all-in since touchdown and is in prime position to medal.

After he opened with a 2-under 69 on Thursday, he went the full Rory in flight with a front nine birdie-birdie-eagle stretch in Friday’s second round to ignite a charge toward the top of the leaderboard.

After his scoring binge that began on the sixth got him within two of the lead on a hot day with little breeze, McIlroy had extra bounce in his step. He bogeyed the 11th but birdied the difficult 12th before a weather delay sent players off the East Course at Kasumigaseki Country Club in Saitama, about 35 miles northwest of downtown Tokyo.

But the two hours of delay didn’t drench McIlroy’ firepower, as he ripped a 3-wood from just over 300 yards onto the par-5 14th green with his first shot after the break and two-putted for another birdie.

He added another red number on the 17th but ended his round with a bogey after a poor drive on 18.

The world No. 13, who is representing Ireland, finished with a 66 and stood at 7 under through 36 holes and one shot of the clubhouse lead.

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“The goal today was to sort of get back in touch,” McIlroy said. “Sepp (Straka) shooting 8 under yesterday showed everyone what was out there. I just wanted to get into contention going into the weekend and at least feel like I was still a part of the tournament and I’ve done that.

“I sort of played similarly to how I played yesterday, I just played the par 5s better. I drove it as well as I did yesterday, hit a couple of loose ones on the way in. I putted nicely. Iron play was pretty good. So, pretty pleased.”

Among those still playing, Carlos Ortiz of Mexico was 10 under through 14 holes. Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, the reigning Masters champion, was 6 under through 11 holes.

Chile’s Mito Pereira, who won three times on the Korn Ferry Tour to earn a promotion to the PGA Tour, where he tied for fifth and sixth in his past two starts, kept rolling with a 65 to move to 8 under to grab a share of the clubhouse lead. He was joined there by Sweden’s Alex Noren, who shot 67 for the second consecutive day.

Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand was at 7 under after a 71.

Olympics: Golf-Mens

Sungjae Im (KOR) and Rory McIlroy (IRL) walk to the third tee before putting during round two of the men’s individual stroke play of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Kasumigaseki Country Club. Photo by Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

“Now it feels like the longer the tournament goes it feels more like the Olympics,” Noren said. “It’s kind of like a weird tournament because of the only thing that matters are the medals. I think it’s cool to have a tournament like this and being such a big tournament, but usually you play for points, somebody needs their card, somebody wants to advance into the finals, somebody needs this and this and all of a sudden it’s like top 3, otherwise it’s not much worth.”

McIlroy didn’t know what he’d get out of the week but he’s certainly in a much better place than he was just two weeks ago in England.

After wrapping up his work in the British Open, McIlroy told reporters there wasn’t much to look forward to at the Olympics. With COVID-19 restrictions in place, McIlroy, who decided not to play in the 2016 Rio Summer Games because of the zika virus, knew he’d basically spend half his day at the golf course in Tokyo and half his day in his hotel room, unable to fully take in the Olympic experience.

“I am not a very patriotic guy,” he said. “I am doing it because I think it is the right thing to do. I missed it last time, and for golf to be an Olympic sport, you need your best players there.

“I feel like I want to represent the game of golf more than anything else.”

His mood changed once he got to the Land of the Rising Sun.

“I never obviously competed in an Olympic Games. I watched them from afar, but I said this yesterday, being a part of something that’s completely different and bigger than me and even our sport in general, that’s a pretty cool thing,” McIlroy said. “So, I didn’t know if this was going to be my only Olympics that I play or whatever and I’m already looking forward to Paris (and the 2024 Summer Games).

“This is a very watered-down experience compared to what it usually is so I’m looking forward to three years’ time.

“We’re trying to concentrate a lot on what you’re doing but you’re also really interested in everything else that’s going on around you. I think that’s the very cool part about it. You’re competing in Olympic games but 30 minutes down the road everyone else is competing as well. I think that’s the thing that maybe not being in the Olympics last time is that I didn’t understand, like when your sport is in the Olympics and you’re all a part of something that’s a bit bigger than yourself, your sport and that’s a great thing.”

World No. 5 Xander Schauffele is leading the USA contingent at 8 under through 14 holes in the second round. World No. 3 Collin Morikawa shot 70 to move to 3 under. World No. 12 Patrick Reed is 3 under after a 71. World No. 4 Justin Thomas made his first birdie on his 22nd hole and is even  through 13 holes.

Source : Golf Week More   

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As a reminder, Kasumigaseki Country Club is the site of both the men’s and women’s competitions. The East Course is playing 7,447 yards for the men and there is no cut.

While the third round of competition will be held Saturday morning local time, the 13-hour time difference means play will begin Friday night, July 30, in Eastern Daylight Time.

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Source : Golf Week More   

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