Through 36 holes at Royal Liverpool, the 25-year-old golfer has been simply outstanding. He has carded two rounds of 66 while earning a four-stroke lead over Dustin Johnson. ESPN Stats & Info points out how good these rounds were:
This score is not that much of a surprise considering McIlroy's immense talent. He already has two major titles on his resume and was at one point No. 1 in the world rankings before hitting a slump.
However, the shocking part is that he was able to follow up a great round on Thursday with another one on Friday. This has been a bit of a problem for the superstar in 2014, as noted by Justin Ray of Golf Channel:
Will Brinson of CBS Sports joked that the player had to psych himself into believing it was still Thursday:
Although a bogey on the first hole brought back bad feelings, he was able to recover with seven birdies in an otherwise flawless day.
Before the tournament, McIlroy referred to his problem as a "second-round thing," according to Paul Newberry of the Associated Press. In this case, you would think that the issue is now behind him.
However, his explanation of it after Round 1 indicates this could be as much of a problem over the weekend, via Bob Harig of ESPN:
When you go back out on Friday after a good score, you know what you can do on the golf course. So you're going out with some expectations compared to when on Thursday you're going out with not many.
I think I've just got to approach it like that, and start trying to hit solid shots the first few holes and play my way into the round, just like I did today. I hit some really good shots on the first holes and that gave me confidence and then I could go from there.
He obviously has a plan, but we have seen in the past that McIlroy can have problems after Day 2, especially at majors.
The Northern Irish star was one-under through two rounds at the 2014 U.S. Open before going seven-over in the last two days. In the 2013 U.S. Open, he was eight strokes worse in his last two rounds compared to his first two, while the 2013 Masters featured a miserable 79 in Round 3.
It is also tough to forget about the 2011 Masters, when McIlroy led at the turn in Round 4 before collapsing with a final score of 80.
So far in this tournament, the golfer has been playing as well as possible. He has been gotten great distance with his drives and can get to the green in regulation even when he misses the fairway. Although he has not been great at putting this year, he has done well at Royal Liverpool.
Still, McIlroy's inconsistency from round to round has nothing to do with his talent. It is a mental problem that he needs to be able to overcome. While he thinks his second strong round was enough, he is not out of the woods yet.
The talented golfer has to make sure to not get ahead of himself and listen to the talk of him coming away with his third career major. Otherwise, he will end up falling down the leaderboard as he has so many other times in his career.
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