Rory McIlroy fightback keeps US Open hopes alive but par five woes threaten Pebble Beach glory bid

Rory McIlroy fightback keeps US Open hopes alive but par five woes threaten Pebble Beach glory bid

RORY McILROY produced a brilliant fightback at the US Open, just when his chances of ending his Major drought seemed to be ebbing away at Pebble Beach.
McIlroy looked to be reeling after he followed a bogey at the 13th hole – ending a run of 29 holes without dropping a shot – with an horrendous double at the par five 14th.
3 Rory McIlroy celebrates after securing a birdie from off the green at the 16th to keep his US Open hopes aliveCredit: EPA
That saw him plummet from just a shot behind early leader Justin Rose to four shots back – and it looked like it might get even worse as the four time Major champion dumped his tee shot at the 15th into a fairway bunker.
But he produced a stunning recovery, knocking his second shot to less than five feet of the flag, and his bounce back birdie put the swagger back in McIlroy’s step.
He followed up by draining a curling twenty footer from the fringe of the 16th, and two closing pars for a 69 left him three shots behind American Gary Woodland, who fired the round of the day to knock Rose off top spot.
Woodland shot a six under par 65 to climb to nine under, producing a grandstand finish by sinking a fifty footer for birdie at his final hole, the ninth – after being forced to hit his second shot from an un-repaired divot.
But after managing just two top tens in his previous thirty Majors, the big-hitter from Kansas will need to step up a couple of levels to keep his nose in front.
The one concern for McIlroy is the way he has played the three par fives at Pebble – holes he would normally expect to reduce to rubble.
3He has still not made a birdie on the long holes in six attempts, and that seven at the 14th meant he is two over par for them.
With his power, he would normally expect to be at least two UNDER – and that four shot swing would have been good enough for him to go into today’s third round as the joint leader.
McIlroy admitted: “I definitely need to improve on those holes, but the other way to look at it is that I must be playing some pretty good golf elsewhere to still be five under.
“But I’ve got six more attempts, and the goal now will be to try to make at least three birdies so I can get into red numbers for the par fives.
“If I can do that, and maintain my overall standard of play elsewhere, I should be OK.
“But that back nine today – wow it was a real roller-coaster. I could take the bogey on 13 because you are going to drop the odd shot around here, and I’d had a great run without giving one back.
“But on 14 I made a bad mistake with a wedge on my hand, so it was important to bounce back the way I did. The birdies on 15 and 16 were huge. They’ve put me right back in the golf tournament.”
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England’s Matt Wallace also played his way into contention for his 11th win in the last six years – and easily his biggest.
Birdies at three of his last six holes earned him a 68, taking him to four under par and a share of sixth with defending champion Brooks Koepka – his playing partner today (SAT,) – and three other players.
That could prove significant. None of the last 23 US Open champions have been outside the top six heading into the final 36 holes.
3 American Gary Woodland leads the US Open by two strokes going into the third round at Pebble BeachCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Watch the horrific moment Rory McIlroy’s drive clatters fan straight on the skull at The Memorial Tournament


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