The Open: McIlroy banishes his Friday demonsJuly, 2014 News & Tour
Rory opens up four-shot lead at Hoylake
This would supposedly be when it all fell apart. The promise of Thursday would be blown away on Friday and Rory McIlroy would disappear without trace.
It all went to plan at the 1st with a first dropped shot of the week but then he did what he does when at his very best, compiling a four-shot lead from nowhere.
Going back to his Open debut in 2007 he has historically made a mess of Fridays in the Championship. Then, at Carnoustie, he had a 76 to follow up a 68. It happened again the following year, also at Lytham in 2012 and, most famously, at St Andrews. There he began with a nonchalant 63 and added a slightly less impressive 80.
The phenomenon even has a name, Freaky Friday. However the only odd thing about his second round was the ease in which he put together a second 66. No thoughts of a score in the high 70s, rather sticking to a game plan which has thrown up two brilliant scores and countless other birdie opportunities.
“I didn’t have that in my head at all. Going out there, I just wanted to play another solid round of golf, stick to my game plan, stick to doing what I do well, which is take advantage of the par 5s, maybe take advantage of some of the other holes that are downwind. That’s all I was thinking about,” he explained afterwards with his trademark easy-going nature.
“I feel like I have an inner peace on the course. I’m very comfortable in this position and doing what I’m doing right now. It’s hard to describe. I wish I could get into it more often.”
As for how the maestro gets into this frame of mind it is all down to two words, which act as a ‘trigger’, and which helped him to birdies at three of the four par 5s and a pair of twos.
“I just take it as I feel it. I’ve got a couple little words that I’m using this week, that I sort of keep telling myself in my head when I’m on my way around the course, when I’m just about to hit it, go into a shot. But that’s really it. That’s as complex as it gets in my head.”
“I feel like I have an inner peace on the course. I’m very comfortable in this position and doing what I’m doing right now" – Rory McIlroy We’ve been promised that we can find out those words on Sunday, should all go well. Heading up the leading pack will be Dustin Johnson who sits two shots ahead of a six-strong group of Francesco Molinari, Ryan Moore, Rickie Fowler, Sergio Garcia and the South African duo of Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.
Garcia hit the shot of the day when he holed his approach to the 2nd, shots that were given back in the holes either side of it.
Johnson actually trumped McIlroy’s effort with a best-of-the-day 65 and the big-hitting American went bogey free to close the gap to four.
There is plenty of class in McIlroy’s rear view mirror, the question is whether he will be able to see them.