US Open: McIlroy in 'great position' in congested leaderboard with Woods to miss cut

By Sports Desk June 14, 2024

Rory McIlroy believes he is in a "great position" as he sits within touching distance of the leaders after two rounds at the US Open, while Tiger Woods is set to miss the cut after a disappointing second round. 

McIlroy ended Friday's action at three-under, keeping himself in contention behind Ludvig Aberg, Matthieu Pavon, Patrick Cantlay and a host of other big names.

McIlroy, the 2011 champion, was among the early starters and bogeyed two of his first six holes to fall from the lead after starting on the 10th tee.

However, he steadied the ship on the back nine and the leaderboard might have looked rosier had he not bogeyed his last hole of the day, the par-three ninth, having found the bunker.

"I was not quite as good with the putter [compared to round one] but still, overall in a great position going into the weekend," McIlroy said to Sky Sports.

"Some of the hole locations were definitely a little tougher and you sort of had to have your wits about you. I did a pretty good job at keeping some of the mistakes off the scorecard.

"I wish I had converted a couple more of the chances. I hit the ball pretty well and think I only missed one fairway, so I had plenty of opportunities.

"I was two over pretty early. My goal going into that second nine was if I could get it back to even for the day, I would have been pretty happy. 

"Got that birdie on three, I was trying to claw one back there, then ultimately I gave one back again [on nine].

"With the way the golf course is and the way some of those hole locations are, I don't see anyone running away with it."

Aberg, Pavon and Cantlay were among the leaders as Friday's action drew to a close, with Bryson DeChambeau one shot ahead of McIlroy, alongside Thomas Detry.

DeChambeau had a typically eventful round by mixing four bogeys with five birdies, the last of which saw him finish with a flourish on the 18th.

Detry made a splash as he carded an impressive 67. At one stage, the Belgian held the lead after reaching six-under for the day through 14 holes, though he slipped back slightly with two bogeys in his last four. 

Hideki Matsuyama went one better than Detry with a four-under 66 at Pinehurst No.2 to ensure he sits in the top 10 heading into the weekend, one shot behind McIlroy.

Meanwhile, Woods followed up his opening round of 74 with a second round of 73, putting him on course to miss the cut at seven-over.

One of the shots of the day saw Francesco Molinari avoid the same fate, though, as he sank a hole-in-one on the 18th when he required an eagle to make the weekend.

PGA Championship winner Xander Schauffele is at one-under after posting a 69, but it was a tougher day for world number one Scottie Sheffler, who faces an anxious wait to see whether he made the cut after ending Friday five-over. 

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  • The Open: Victorious Schauffele eyes career grand slam The Open: Victorious Schauffele eyes career grand slam

    Xander Schauffele set his sights on a career grand slam after a brilliant final round saw him claim victory at The Open on Sunday.

    Schauffele managed a six-under 65 through his fourth round at Royal Troon, with a run of four birdies in six holes down the back nine seeing him pull clear.

    He finished two strokes ahead of Justin Rose and Billy Horschel, with Thriston Lawrence, Russell Henley and Shane Lowry rounding out the top of the leaderboard.

    Having also triumphed at the PGA Championship at Valhalla earlier this year, Schauffele has become the first player since Brooks Koepka in 2018 (U.S. Open and PGA) to win two majors in the same year.

    Rory McIlroy was the last player to win those same two tournaments in one year, achieving the feat back in 2014.

    Only five players have ever previously won all four majors in their careers – Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tiger Woods.

    Schauffele is looking to follow in their footsteps in the coming years, telling reporters: "If you look hard enough, you can always find it.

    "It's something, when you feel like you need an extra kick in the butt, there's several easy ways to motivate yourself.

    "There's still a lot of things that I'd like to do in my career, and this is a very big leap towards that. The fire is still burning, maybe brighter than ever."

    Looking at the Claret Jug in his post-tournament press conference, the world number three added: "It's an honour. I've always dreamed of doing it.

    "That walk up 18 truly is the coolest with the yellow leaderboards and the fans and the standing ovation. It really is one of the coolest feelings I've ever had in my life."

  • The Open: Rose lauds 'cold competitor' Schauffele after second-placed finish The Open: Rose lauds 'cold competitor' Schauffele after second-placed finish

    Justin Rose accepted he had lost out to a "cold competitor" in Xander Schauffele after the American triumphed at the 152nd Open at Royal Troon on Sunday.

    Schauffele shot a magnificent final round of 65 to seal a two-shot victory in Scotland, winning his second major after he also came out on top at May's PGA Championship.

    Rose joined Billy Horschel in a share of second, the Englishman managing two birdies in his final three holes to close the gap.

    Rose – who has gone 11 years without winning a major since claiming the U.S. Open title in 2013 – was proud of his efforts and acknowledged he had simply been beaten by the better player.

    "Obviously I tried to enjoy the walk down 18 because we did an incredible job out there," Rose told Sky Sports. "I felt like we played unbelievable golf. 

    "But Xander, every credit to him, he made it look so easy on the back nine. He's a cold, cold competitor, but I couldn't be more proud of myself with the way I competed today.

    "There was just one little spell in the round where there were putts on 12, 13 and 14 that didn't drop and that's where the momentum shifted to Xander.

    "That putt on 18, to finish strong, I knew it was for second place and I think I at least deserved that for the week.

    "It's okay to be beaten by someone who shoots 31 on the back nine but I gave that everything."

    Fellow runner-up Horschel, who held a one-stroke lead going into Sunday's final round, was disappointed to drop away, saying: "I'm going to always fight until the end. I was rewarded with three birdies there at the end to finish tied second with a good friend, Justin Rose.

    "I should feel disappointed. I had a chance to win a major. I was in a really good position. I just made a few too many mistakes today when I didn't need to. 

    "But we'll look back on this in an hour and I'll be very happy with what I did this week.

    "I did a lot of great things that I can take on to the next few years of majors and hopefully one of these will be my time to step through the door and hold one of them."

  • The Open: Schauffele stays serene to clinch Troon title The Open: Schauffele stays serene to clinch Troon title

    Xander Schauffele said his earlier victory at the PGA Championship gave him a sense of calm as he claimed his second major triumph at The Open on Sunday.

    Schauffele shot a sensational six-under 65 in the fourth round to come out on top at Royal Troon, beating overnight leader Billy Horschel and Justin Rose by two shots.

    The world number three played a brilliant back nine to streak clear of his rivals, birdying the 14th and 16th holes before an excellent shot onto the green on the 17th all but sealed his win.

    Speaking to Sky Sports after claiming the Claret Jug, Schauffele said his earlier victory at Valhalla took any nerves out of the occasion.

    "I thought that would help me and it actually did," he said. "I had this sense of calm, a calm I didn't have when I played earlier at the PGA.

    "For some reason, I was calm and collected. I was telling my caddie Austin that I felt pretty calm coming down the stretch and he said he was about to puke on the 18th tee!

    "I told myself to just hit it down there and keep moving along.

    "I played that back nine yesterday in really bad weather so I just told myself today is technically easier so go out and get it.

    "To have two [major wins] is unbelievable. It took me so long to get one and it gets in your head a little bit, and now I'm just spoiling myself."

    The last seven majors have now been won by American players, the longest streak of major victories by Americans since 1982.

    While Schauffele won two of four majors this year, Brooks Koepka (2023 PGA), Wyndham Clark (2023 US Open), Brian Harman (2023 Open), Scottie Scheffler (2024 Masters) and Bryson DeChambeau (2024 US Open) have also triumphed in that span.

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