Rory McIlroy Stays in Contention with Strong 2nd Round at 2018 British Open

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistJuly 20, 2018

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy plays from the rough on the 6th as he plays the 5th hole during his second round on day 2 of The 147th Open golf Championship at Carnoustie, Scotland on July 20, 2018. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)        (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)
GLYN KIRK/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy put himself firmly in contention going into the weekend at the 2018 British Open as he shot a second-round 69 in miserable conditions at Carnoustie Golf Links in Angus, Scotland, on Friday.

It was unspectacular but solid from the Northern Irishman as he got to the turn in one-under par thanks to a sole birdie at seven.

On the tougher back nine, McIlroy bogeyed 12 and 15, but he also picked up shots at 10, 13 and 14 to finish on four-under par for the tournament after 36 holes.

ESPN Stats & Info put the former world No. 1's opening two rounds into context:

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Rory McIlroy finishes off a 2nd straight round of 69 at The Open. The previous 4 times he's started a major with back-to-back rounds in the 60s have resulted in 3 wins and a T-15th at the 2011 Masters.

McIlroy had his chances for birdies on the opening six holes, but he also did well to scramble and save pars at the second and third.

As such, he would have been happy heading to the seventh, where he attacked the pin and drained a fine putt to move to three under.

Another aggressive approach to the 10th with a wedge set up his second birdie of the day, per the European Tour:

The European Tour @EuropeanTour

Rory birdies the 10th. He’s one back. https://t.co/QDNEhb3WNM

But he then gave the shot back at 12 after three-putting from just off the front of the green.

It was a setback, but the four-time major winner hit back in the best possible fashion to briefly tie for the lead with back-to-back birdies.

Per golf writer Jason Sobel, he was playing the conditions well:

Jason Sobel @JasonSobelTAN

It’s raining and Rory McIlroy is tied for the lead. These two things just might be related.

A brilliant drive into the par-three 13th set up his two there, and a fine 10-foot putt gave him a four at the par-five 14th after he had driven into a bunker.

Golf Central @GolfCentral

Rory McIlroy has that look in his eyes today 👀 The Irishman moves to -5 overall and -3 on the day. #TheOpen https://t.co/iP2e8lL4JL

McIlroy's second bogey of the round came at 15 as he failed to get up and down having hit his approach short and left of the green.

A level-par finish over the last three holes was more than satisfactory for the world No. 8.

A birdie attempt on the last just lipped out, but the 17th could have cost McIlroy a shot had it not been for a fine up-and-down from in front of the green. 

He went into the clubhouse just one off the lead. That could certainly change through Friday afternoon, but he is sure to be in with a chance when play gets under way on Saturday.