Andrew, St. Andrew (Scottish capital) In the distance, the triangular hotel loomed large as Rory McIlroy made his way to the 17th hole. Rory! Rory! Rory!
Rewind by five hours, starting with McIlroy’s tee-off. Game 19 made its way up the 18th as Game 45 made its way down the first fairway. McIlroy acknowledged his former idol, Tiger Woods, who was among the former group. It was as if the symbolism of Tiger’s 9-over miss cut wasn’t enough to convey what had happened. All of the people who had held out hope for Tiger were now rooting for Rory.
McIlroy was excellent. On the back nine, he made three straight birdies and was eyeing the top two spots on the Open leaderboard. Afterward, he carded a disappointing 35. Despite a disappointing bogey at the 15th hole, he rebounded admirably and ended up on the 17th.
Rory McIlroy’s drive landed out on the left side of the fairway, but he went for a right pin, drove it to 25 feet, and rolled in one of only six birdies of the day (out of 156 participants). In Round 2, the hole averaged 4.3 points, making it the most difficult hole on Friday.
Asked by McIlroy, “It came out a little bit hotter than I expected.” To my great relief and relief of the hill, I was expecting it to land in the lower part of the slope before the slope. As a result, it flew about 8 yards further than I expected it would. Fortunately, there was a hill there to deter it.
In the context of the championship, it felt like a significant occasion. The grandstands erupted in applause when Rory McIlroy gave a subtle but important fist pump. McIlroy hasn’t made many better threes than that one, and it was his first birdie on the Road Hole in six efforts at the Old Course in the Open Championships.
He answered, “I think so,” when asked if that was the turning moment in his career. “I think the par-saving on 16 and the birdie on 17 were key following my bogey on 15, as it turned the round around nicely.” Because I didn’t want to make two bogeys in a row, it would have been wonderful to follow it up with a 3 on the final hole. On 16, that was a huge putt. Then a 3 to cap it all off… At least a few photos were preserved there.”
McIlroy carded a final-round 69 to follow up Thursday’s 66. After 36 holes, he is one shot behind Cameron Young and two shots behind Cameron Smith. That “one-hand-on-the-jug” thing wasn’t it. It was expected that Rory would disappoint in the second round, but he kept up the pace to give himself a chance for the weekend.
Even though the leader, Smith, has a blazing putter, McIlroy’s ball striking is significantly superior to that of the seasoned veteran. His ability as a putter will have to speak for itself as to whether or not it is sustainable. It’s still a challenge to sustain this level of performance.
For both McIlroy’s legacy and the sport of golf, the weekend and the entire week seem significant. It’s an honor to win any major, and the Open Championship at St. Andrews, where Tiger Woods wept after finishing 18th on Friday, is particularly noteworthy. Between now and the end of this year and beyond on the PGA Tour-LIV Golf rivalry, there is just one major left. It’s almost too significant to comprehend.
For both McIlroy’s legacy and the sport of golf, the weekend and the entire week seem significant. Tiger sobbed on Friday when he came in at No. 18 in the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews — the tournament in which he won his first major title. The only major standing in the way of the PGA Tour-LIV Golf rivalry that will continue throughout the rest of the year and into next year? That’s almost incomprehensible how significant it is.
To carry that much weight is difficult, but McIlroy has made a point of talking about how wonderful his game feels and how composed he’s been on the course even amid the mayhem that has characterized the Open this year. Perhaps, like Woods, he’ll be overcome with emotion on Sunday if and when he comes in at No. 18 with his piece of history in sight after consuming alcohol for a week.
Rory McIlroy said on Friday, “I know I’ve got the game” You have provided me with everything I require. Playing my game and playing my golf for the next two days is all that I can do. I’m going to have a hard time winning the tournament if Cam Smith shoots another two rounds as he did in the first two days.
The only option is to do my best and worry about myself, so I’ll just have to go out there and do my best.
This tournament had the vibe of Rory’s. With so much golf remaining and so many great players in contention, it’s an absurd statement to make after Round 2, but Friday appeared to like him “let’s get my terrible round out of the way for the week” round, which indicates that the next two days may be exceptional. Road Hole, if it was a sign of things to come, was fantastic.
At the end of the 18th hole, McIlroy took a few more beats to execute his shot. Painting is what I think it was. Rory then followed in Tiger’s footsteps by crossing the Swilican Bridge and making his way up to the 18th green in 2 hours and 20 minutes.
The question now is if McIlroy can follow in Tiger Woods’ footsteps and win two Claret Jugs at the same course in 2000 and 2005. At the final, McIlroy was treated differently than Woods had been. Excitement abounds, but so does optimism for the upcoming weekend.