By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 12/07/19 7:18pm
Rory McIlroy was happy with his Open build-up so far as he heads into the weekend of the Scottish Open six strokes off the lead at The Renaissance Club.
McIlroy was unable to match the ultra-low scoring of many of his rivals in relatively benign conditions at the North Berwick layout, although he was satisfied to card back-to-back 67s to give him a platform for a strong weekend challenge.
The world No 3 did concede he would have to sharpen up his play on the par-fives, but he also missed a number of chances on the slow greens and needed a big finish to make absolutely sure of being around for the final 36 holes.
McIlroy started at the 10th and picked up early shots at 12 and 13, but he parred his next six holes and made his third bogey of the week at the short second, a mistake which dropped him to five under and right on the projected cut line at the time.
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But the 30-year-old hit back with three birdies in four holes from the fifth to match his 67 of the opening day, although he has much ground to make up on the leading trio of Lee Slattery, Erik Van Rooyen and Bernd Wiesberger.
“I thought I played pretty well,” said McIlroy. “I’ve driven the ball well for two days and I feel like my wedge play has been good and my iron play for the most part has been good. But there are three guys at 14 under par, I’m struggling to see that.
“I’ve played well. Yes, I’ve maybe missed some opportunities, but obviously guys are finding the course quite easy. Obviously it’s benign conditions but it’s still a one or two-club wind out there. It’s not very easy, but it is soft, so it is scoreable.
“I just feel like I’ve done what I wanted to do this week. I’ve driven the ball well and the things I’ve been seeing in practice I’ve been able to put out there on to the course, but I just might need to go a bit more over the weekend.
“I think you need to play the par-fives well. I only played them today in two under, so if you play them well, that’s four birdies right there, and then with the other 14 holes, you’re bound to give yourself at least eight or 10 looks at birdies and just try and convert a few and hopefully creep up on them over the weekend.
“I think back on the last two rounds, yes, maybe I could have squeezed another couple of shots out of both of them and been 12 under or something. But the guys at the top of the leaderboard are obviously playing very good golf.”
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But while McIlroy is safely through to the weekend, his good friend and playing-partner Rickie Fowler will be heading to Royal Portrush earlier than expected after he bogeyed his final hole to return a 67 and miss the cut by a single shot.