PGA Tour — Rory McIlroy’s return to a conventional putting grip paid dividends as he made eight birdies and holed five putts between six and 36 feet to surge into contention in the Memorial Tournament.
Just over 24 hours after returning to his left before right grip to regain the feel he lost going cack handed, the world No 3 fired a six under 66 to move up 46 places to tied 12th on seven under, just five shots behind leaders Brendan Steele (67) and Matt Kuchar (66) at Muirfield Village.
"My round? It's good. It sort of fizzled out at the end,” said McIlroy. who was six under with seven holes to play to had to settle for 66. “I thought it had the potential to be something quite special after 11 holes, and then I missed something where you just can't miss it on 12.
"Then I made one birdie on the way in. But I felt like after 11 that it could have been at least a 64 or 63.
"I don't think you can ever be too disappointed with a 66, but at the same time, it had the potential to be a little bit better. This is the sort of round I needed going into tomorrow. We're teeing off, and the leaders are 11 shots ahead of me. So at least I made a little ground up on them. To be five back going into the weekend isn’t bad.”
On his putting change, he watched a replay of a 36 foot swinging putt fall into the cup on its last roll for a birdie at the 10th and said: “That’s what I was looking for there. Pace is more important than line on a putt like that. To see putts like that fall — I had one on eight as well — gives me a lot of confidence.”
As for Ian Poulter’s foot injury, which could put him out for four months, costing him a Ryder Cup appearance, McIlroy said: "For Poults, it's obviously tough. I didn’t even know that he was struggling with his foot up until this point.
"I knew he hadn't been playing his best. It's tough to miss four months when it's a Ryder Cup year, and that's the event that he wants to play in more than anything else.
“But if anything, it sort of makes Darren Clarke’s job a little bit easier because Poults was in a position where he might not have qualified for the team, but it’s tough not to include him.
"Even if he wasn't playing his best, it might have put Darren in a difficult spot. But because of the injury, that might not be the case now. In a way, it makes Darren’s life a little bit easier…
"Hopefully, if he can't be there as one of the 12 playing, hopefully, he's there as a vice captain. He’s always good fun and good to be around in the team room and the locker room.
Hoey breaks cut streak
European Tour — Michael Hoey ended a run of 11 missed cuts in a row when he added a 71 to his opening 69 to share 19th at halfway in the Nordea Masters in Stockholm.
The Belfast player is on four under par at Bro Hof Scott, six behind England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick, who fired a stunning 65 to carry a three-shot lead into the weekend.
The Englishman came into the second round a shot behind a leading group of six players, but his flawless effort catapulted him to 11 under par and gave him a healthy advantage over the chasing pack, which is led by home favourite Alexander Björk, Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts, Scotland’s Scott Henry and the English duo of Ross Fisher and Andrew Johnston.
Peter Lawrie (71-72) made the level par cut with ease on one under as Fitzpatrick chases a win that would all but guarantee his place in Darren Clarke’s European Ryder Cup team
“Any time you shoot seven birdies it’s always a good day, and when you manage to keep the bogeys off the card at the same time, it’s an even better day,” Fitzpatrick said.
Paul Dunne dropped five shots in four holes after the turn, carding a 75 to miss the cut by one.
McGee on a Swiss roll
Challenge Tour — Rosapenna’s Ruaidhri McGee was just a shot off the lead when play was suspended for light in the Swiss Challenge in Lucerne.
The Derry native fired seen birdies in a five under 66 to move up to solo second on six under, one behind England’s Paul Howard at Golf Sempachersee.
After a five hour and 40 minute rain delay, Howard carried on from where he finished yesterday, following a first round 68 with three birdies in five holes to reach the turn in 34.
The 25 year old, who made the initial 20-man squad for last year’s Walker Cup, then made two further gains over the back nine to sign for a 67 and reach seven under par after two rounds.
Ardglass’ Cormac Sharvin had an eagle and one birdie in a level par 71 to share 14th on three under with Kevin Phelan a shot further back after a 71.
Power in contention in Punta Cana
Web.com Tour — West Waterford’s Seamus Power added a 69 to his opening 66 to share 10th place in the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship in the Dominican Republic.
Power is tied for 10th place on nine under par, four shots behind Josh Teater (65) and Joel Dahmen (64) who led by one in the clubhouse on 13 under from Dominic Bozzelli (63) when play was suspended due to darkness.
Carey cut in Guadeloupe
Alps Tour — David Carey added a 73 to his opening 75 to miss the cut by one in the Open de St Francois Guadeloupe.
The Dubliner finished on six over par as French amateur Julien de Poyen (68) leads on five under alongside compatriots Leo Lespinasse and Erwan Vieilledent.