Rory McIlroy Storms Back Into Contention After Terrific Second Round

Pep talk from caddie inspires Rory McIlroy at British Open

Kuchar stayed with him, making four birdies against a bogey on the front. It was Spieth's best start in a major since he opened with a 66 at the Masters a year ago.

"We played in that afternoon on Friday in the worst stuff I've ever played in".

Shane Lowry endured a tough back nine as he carded a two-over-par 72. But he deserves better: if consistency is your thing, then Matt Kuchar is your man, a fact in which the amiable 39-year old Floridian takes justifiable pride.

He was lucky that Friday's forecast, an apocalyptic outlook that called for a 100 percent chance of rain and the kind of wind that turns decent shots into disasters, never materialized.

The past Open champion did sign off with one birdie on the 17th but finished with another dropped shot to card an 81, and he wasn't alone in the struggle to combat the demanding course and tricky elements.

All day, as it has been all year, Spieth's approach play was on.

"There's a whole lot of trouble to be had", he said. "It's hard to get into it".

"I didn't get angry out there at all".

The flight of that 3-wood looked as ugly as the weather.

"Most of them are (about) not giving up and fighting your way through", Rahm said "And in my case it gets me to the mental state that I need to be to play golf".

This tweet from the PGA Tour summed it up well.




Mark O'Meara was supposed to hit the first tee shot to start the 146th British Open.

By the time he arrived for his second round on a blustery day at Royal Birkdale, he had a good idea what this British Open is all about, and somewhat of an idea what he is all about.

"JP basically said: "You're Rory McIlroy, what are you doing?' I said, 'Yeah, ' and at that point I mumbled something like, 'Whatever". I think it will be interesting this weekend.

The performance of a fellow leader did catch his attention, however.

Spieth gave himself nine out of 10 following an opening 65, but admitted he needed some good luck to post a halfway total of 134, matching the record in an Open at Birkdale set by Craig Stadler in 1983.

"If you're on the good end, you nearly put that kind of pressure on yourself, 'Hey, I need to jump out ahead.' So it's a mind game that you play with yourself out there".

Ian Poulter, Justin Thomas and Richard Bland finished the day two shots back at 3-under, but Matt Kuchar is now the one chasing up the leaderboard. "I know there were people that will shoot five-under tomorrow - there's a long way to go". But then a timely reminder from his caddie J.P. Fitzgerald-"You're Rory [expletive] McIlroy"-lit the proverbial fire under McIlroy".

Some might watch Spieth and see chance as an overriding factor in his success, especially so when he makes bunker shots like the one which ultimately sealed the most recent of his victories in CT.

What was in McIlroy's head before that is a matter of some conjecture.

"But, in this particular case, we've been out there with our health and safety people, and the only way you can get the ball onto the 10th fairway is to drive it straight over the top of the grandstand and we felt that that was just unsafe". These are the four biggest tournaments of the year.

Even the best players in the world with their game in great shape for the British Open still have to rely on luck at golf's oldest championship. "It was just absolutely sheets of sideways rain is how I described it", he recalled. And I've been able to achieve that goal that I set myself.

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