Rory McIlroy remains very much in the hunt for the BMW SA Open hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni despite playing his second round with breathing difficulties due to a back injury.
The World Number Two made an uncharacteristic bogey-birdie-double bogey start to day at the Glendower Golf Club but any fears of a poor performance were soon wiped out as he covered his next 11 holes in eight under par.
The 27 year old drove the ball supremely in that period as he charged through the field to get to 11 under with two holes to play.
The Northern Irishman looked odds-on to join second round leader Graeme Storm, who equalled the course record of nine under 63, atop the leaderboard on 12 under but a bogey-bogey finish saw McIlroy drop back to nine under and a share of fifth place.
Rory McIlroy had nine one-putts in a row today.— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) January 13, 2017
In the last two years he's hasn't more than eight in a row. pic.twitter.com/1uWsN7W0M7
Moments later, McIlroy emerged from the scorers hut to reveal he had tweaked his back before starting his second round and had considered pulling out of the tournament.
Storm had earlier produced his brilliant 63 thanks largely to a sensational performance on the greens of Glendower. The Englishman will take a two-shot lead into weekend, with American Peter Uihlein sharing second spot on ten under with the South African duo of Jbe Kruger and Trevor Fisher following their respective second round scores of 64, 67 and 68.
“I’m actually surprised I’m standing here, I actually thought about pulling out before even teeing off today. I tweaked my back somehow and the first few shots today weren’t very comfortable and it still isn’t really comfortable. I can’t really take a deep breath because I’ve done something to my upper back. I’m going to go get some treatment now. Considering that, I played well, stuck at it and hopefully I can feel better tomorrow.
“I don’t want to withdraw, it would let a lot of people down so that’s why I kept going today. As I said, I’m going to get some physio now and hopefully I’ll feel better tomorrow.
“The middle of the round was good. Once I got it going and saw putts going in I got some momentum which was nice. Disappointed to finish the way I did, I thought I hit a good shot on 17, it just pitched a bit too far. Then 18 I was probably just rushing a bit to get in before the weather. Overall, the start and the finish wasn’t great but everything in between was pretty good and I’m still in contention heading into the weekend.”
“It's obviously great to shoot a score like that. I had a long putt on the last to equal my best-ever score but I’ll certainly take a 63. The putter was hot, it was hot yesterday and it was hot today. Yesterday I didn't capitalise as much as I did today. I could have birdied a couple more of the par fives, I only birdied one of them today. So to shoot 63 and only having birdied one of the par fives around here, you know, I've played pretty well. I tip Rory to win this week because he hits it miles and he hits it straight. If I keep on his tail, I'll be happy.”
*Please note, round two of the BMW SA Open was suspended due to inclement weather. Round two will resume at 07:15 local time on Saturday (Jan 14) morning, with 45 players to complete round two before the draw for round three is made.