McIlroy facing cut threat after nightmare start to round two at Bethpage

By Sports Desk May 17, 2019

Rory McIlroy dropped five shots in the first three holes of his second round at the US PGA Championship, leaving his hopes of playing the weekend in severe jeopardy.

The former world number one carded an opening 72 at Bethpage Black to be two over and any hopes he had of making ground early on Friday were quickly dashed.

A double bogey at the troublesome 10th hole, where McIlroy started his round, was followed by another dropped shot at the 11th and things worsened at the par-four 12th as the Northern Irishman made a six.

Playing partners Phil Mickelson and Jason Day also toiled on the 11th, the former making double bogey and the latter also dropping a stroke, with the trio taking 16 shots between them.

McIlroy, who won the last of his four majors at the 2014 PGA Championship, was seven over par, four shots off the projected cut line and in need of a swift turnaround in fortunes.

Danny Lee, who was just one shot shy of overnight leader Brooks Koepka after round one, made a miserable start too. He was six over par through nine holes and back to even for the tournament.

Jordan Spieth, looking to complete the career Grand Slam in Long Island this weekend, and Dustin Johnson each improved to two under, leaving them five shots back of Koepka, who was due to start his round at 6:49pm local time.

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    Gary Player is backing Rory McIlroy to bounce back from his desperately disappointing display at the Open Championship, believing the Northern Irishman will learn from the experience.

    Much was expected of home hopeful McIlroy at Royal Portrush last week, but a quadruple bogey at the first set the tone for a miserable opening round as he carded a 79.

    Despite a recovery on Friday, the four-time major champion fell one stroke short of the cut line and bowed out before the weekend.

    But while a lot has been said and written about McIlroy's dismal start and end to his first 18 - finishing with a triple bogey at the last - Player sees another lesson in the day's play.

    McIlroy three-putted from inside five feet for a double bogey at 16 and, had he kept his composure, victory would still have been a possibility, according to three-time Open champion Player.

    Regardless, the South African sees McIlroy, still just 30, soon ending a wait for a major title that goes back to 2014.

    "When you're as prominent a player as Rory and something happens, everybody is quick to be critical, as people are in life," Player told Omnisport, speaking at The Berenberg Gary Player Invitational.

    "He learned a very good lesson, because he didn't buckle down on two short putts and missed them and then ended up missing the cut by one shot.

    "If he'd made the cut, he could have gone on to win the tournament because you're talking about one of the three most talented men in the world today. I'm a big Rory fan.

    "He made a mistake, so what? Is there anybody who plays golf that hasn't? No, I've never seen that happen.

    "He's won four majors already, which is remarkable. He just won the Canadian Open with 20-something [22] under par.

    "People are very quick to give an opinion. He'll go on to win a lot more majors and tournaments. He's tremendously talented."

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    Herman had only made the cut in three of 19 tournaments this year but shot a magnificent third round of 62 on Saturday to put himself firmly in contention. 

    The 41-year-old, who received a call from the United States president during the event, went on to seal a one-shot victory in Kentucky after taking Trump's advice to switch putters.

    Herman, a former assistant professional at Trump National Bedminster in New Jersey, says the pep talks have helped to drive him on during his career.

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  • Woods' woes, McIlroy's meltdown, fantastic fans and lovable Lowry - The Open Championship reporters' review Woods' woes, McIlroy's meltdown, fantastic fans and lovable Lowry - The Open Championship reporters' review

    The Open Championship concluded on Sunday with Shane Lowry as its hugely popular and deserving winner.

    Royal Portrush excelled as the host course and Northern Ireland revelled in having the world's oldest major back on its shores.

    Omnisport had a team of reporters at the Dunluce Links covering the 148th edition of the historic tournament from all angles.

    And here they pick their best moments, the players who impressed, and those who did not...

    BEST MOMENT ON THE COURSE

    Russell Greaves: You can wander around a golf course during tournament play without actually seeing many shots of note. While you hear cheers and gasps from elsewhere, the action that unfolds in front of you can prove quite unremarkable. So I considered myself fortunate to catch Tony Finau's super chip-in birdie to conclude his third round. 

    Peter Hanson: I can barely remember a crowd as raucous as the one at Portrush. And the sight of throngs of supporters rushing the ropes to try to catch a glimpse of Lowry's winning putt at the 18th is one that will live long in the memory. A special moment at a special tournament.

    Joe Moore: Watching Rory McIlroy come down the 18th during round two. After sending his second shot left of the green only a miraculous chip shot would have seen him progress to the weekend. But despite the long odds, the expectant crowd all rose to their feet as he made the final walk to his ball.

     

    BEST MOMENT OFF THE COURSE 

    RG: The fans and the atmosphere in general made this tournament greater than the sum of its parts, which is substantial enough in its own right. The course was such an enjoyable place to be. The crowds were noisy but respectful and the scenes on Sunday were just joyous.

    PH: There were several things to love about this tournament, but I think my personal favourite away from the action was listening to the reaction Shane Lowry received after going four clear after Saturday's play. The atmosphere was more akin to a football match with the Portrush fans singing his name and making a real noise around the course. Lowry was grinning from ear to ear when he entered the media room, it was a truly special occasion.

    JM: After Shane Lowry hit a weekend-low 63 on Saturday at The Open, Portrush was buzzing, and that all came to a head when he made his way back to the media area to do his interviews, the crowds built around the fenced-off area and what seemed like a thousand people chanted constantly for 20 minutes.

     

    STAR MAN

    RG: I'm not sure if this counts - but it has to be mentioned - Royal Portrush was the star for me. The course and its surrounding area won me over from the start. The enthusiasm of the locals to have this historic tournament back in Northern Ireland after 68 years was infectious. It won't be another seven decades before the prize of the Claret Jug is contested on these shores again.

    PH: I mean, the answer here is obvious; Shane Lowry was simply astounding here this week and the fans were fervent in their support. But further down the leaderboard, there must be an honourable mention for young Robert MacIntyre. The 22-year-old Scot was making his Open debut, yet he defied any suggestion of the occasion overawing him. In contention after the first round, MacIntyre finished the tournament at five under - not bad for an Open first-timer, not bad at all.

    JM: For me, it's Tommy Fleetwood. Despite not having the fairytale ending on the final day, he was consistent throughout the competition. If a couple of his early chances at birdie found the hole in the final round the pressure would've been on Shane Lowry. It's safe to say that it won't be long until Fleetwood has a major of his own.

     

    BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

    RG: Rory McIlroy came down the 18th on Friday needing a birdie to complete a stunning revival and make the cut after his abysmal opening-round 79. I had a spot on the media viewing gallery at the back of the last green and the sense of anticipation from the packed grandstand was palpable. Something remarkable may have been about to happen... but it didn't. He pulled his approach left and couldn't make a frankly unmakeable chip. The dream died and seeing a crestfallen McIlroy somewhat dampened the mood.

    PH: There was only one place I wanted to be just after 10am on Thursday morning. On the first tee, watching Rory McIlroy in front of an expectant home crowd. The reception that met McIlroy was deafening. What followed was the stuff of nightmares, an out-of-bounds tee shot cracking a fan's phone and setting the tone for a quadruple-bogey eight. The applause as McIlroy trudged to the second was almost apologetic. It was not the moment anyone here had imagined.

    JM: Tiger Woods. Since winning the Masters he hasn't had the best of times but there was a part of me that thought he could do something at Portrush. I didn't believe he'd win the tournament but a top-10 finish seemed possible. Unfortunately, his injury got the better of him and he struggled to hit the ball straight off the tee, as he missed the cut.

     

    FAVOURITE HOLE

    RG: Those pictures you saw in the build-up to The Open of the Claret Jug sat proudly on a lush green with a stunning coastal backdrop were shot on the fifth hole. It is the most scenic part of a beautiful course. That putting surface gives way to cliffs which rise from a sandy beach, with the North Atlantic Ocean beyond.

    PH: There is so much to love about this course, every hole is a picture in itself. But for me, the 16th is the best. Aptly named 'Calamity Corner', so it proved for McIlroy on that fateful first day as he three-putted inside five feet on this devilish 263-yard par three. Birdie chances were few and far between on a hole with, as Portrush's official website itself puts it, a "yawning chasm" to clear.  

    JM: It was inevitable more than one of us would opt for the fifth! By no means the toughest hole on the course, statistically playing under-par for the four rounds, but the views from the green of the beach and coastline were simply spectacular.

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