The Open Championship Hoylake Rory McIlroy
Posted at July 19, 2014
Rory McIlroy leads the halfway stage of the 143rd Open Championship after a dominant performance, with a host of other big names trailing in his wake.
It's nice to see the smile back on the face of Rory McIlroy. His off-course trials and tribulations have been well publicized and monitored closely by the world's media and, despite that sterling victory at the BMW PGA Championship, Rory's joy on the course hasn't quite lived up to expectation either. He called it the curse of 'freaky friday' and every sports reporter in the land latched onto this quote in a heartbeat, only for Rory to shoot 66 for the second day running around Hoylake and secure a four shot lead over Dustin Johnson, six shots over another prowling group of six which includes the seasoned Sergio Garcia and Francesco Molinari alongside two major champions in Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen.
Luck did play a part, to an extent. Rory was provided with tee times which saw the best of the conditions with the wind having diminished by the Friday afternoon on the Wirral, but he played some exceptional golf to make the most of the opportunity. There is no denying his talent and his driving has really been the foundation of his dominant performance thus far. 'When his driver is on, he's almost unstoppable', said Rickie Fowler - one of the others currently in a six-way tie for third place. A 397 yard drive on the par 4 17th hole was perhaps the most notable from Friday - inevitably leading to his 12th of thirteen birdies over the first two days.
Famously, Tiger Woods only used the driver once when he won at Hoylake back in 2006. Clearly, the course has changed enough for the players to adopt new strategies - with McIlroy driving the ball no short of six times during his second round. Tiger also ended up going with the same option on three occasions and while driving the ball well did wonders for McIlroy; driving the ball poorly meant Tiger nearly missed the cut (a resultant double bogey at the 1st, triple bogey at 17). Some have commented that Rory McIlroy might want to preserve his four stroke lead and ditch the driver over the weekend, especially with wild weather waiting in the wings. Maybe he will, maybe he won't. But who are we to tell Mr. McIlroy, two-time major champion by eight strokes on both occasions, what to do or how to play the game?
He has it in him, we have all witnessed this, but McIlroy must remain focused and consistent if he is to hold on to this stunning lead come Sunday evening. There are storms on the way to Royal Liverpool, though, and Rory needs to ride them out first.