Paul McGinley believes Rory McIlroy is only using his “C game” yet the world No 1 still managed to grab a share of the halfway lead in the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
Despite battling what he suspected might be a mild case of sunstroke, the 23-year old added a 67 to his opening 66 to top the leaderboard on 11 under par with world No 2 Luke Donald and Scot Marc Warren.
McGinley, who is commentating for Sky Sports this week, was suitably impressed by McIlroy’s ability to score despite playing with his “C game”, frequently citing caddie JP Fitzgerald’s belief that the Holywood player’s chipping and pitching is “up there” or even superior to that of Phil Mickelson.
“He hasn’t got his A game this week or even his B game yet look how he’s managed to get the ball around,” McGinley enthused.
Even McIlroy agreed that he’s capable of going quite a bit lower on a course that suits his big-hitting style to a tee.
“I felt like it could have been a little bit better,” he told Sky Sports after his round. “I had a few opportunities where I could have been 13 or 14 (under) but I am in a great position going into the weekend.”
He also revealed that he is not quite 100 percent physically after complaining of a headache on Thursday evening.
“I got off the course last night and had a really sore head and a fever,” he said. “I think it was just a bit of sunstroke.
“I wasn’t feeling great last night but I took a few things and felt a bit better this morning. Not feeling great again now. The sun’s taken it out of me a bit but I’ll be okay again tomorrow.”
Asked if he felt he had a low round in him, he said: “Yeah, I do, especially the way I’m driving the ball. I feel like I’m driving the ball really well.
“I feel like if I can take advantage of that then there could be something in the low 60s out there for me.”
Overnight leader Donald had a 68, while playing partner Warren matched McIlroy’s round.
As for the rest of the Irish, Padraig Harrington’s battle with the putter continued as he used the blade 35 times in a one under 71 that left him five off the pace on six under and tied for 23rd.
The Dubliner missed just two greens, birdied three par-fives and a par four 15th but bogeyed the fourth and fifth and the 16th to walk off frustrated.
Peter Lawrie also endured a maddening day when, having picked up three shots in five holes before the turn to get to seven under, he bogeyed the 13th, 15th and 16th to card a 71 and slip to 31st on four under.
Michael Hoey was at his unpredictable best, or worst, as he posted a 71 featuring a double bogey six at the 16th sandwiched between eagle threes at the 14th and 18th. All that after following a bogey at the sixth and bogeys at the eighth and ninth.
Graeme McDowell’s year promises to peter out timidly. He could have won two majors yet barring a victory in Tiger Woods’ end of season bash in California, he will end the year winless.
Like Harrington, he has been inconsistent on the greens and at times and holed little in a one over 73 that leaves him tied for 55th in the 56-man field on one over.