Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits the 16th green during the second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament on Friday March 5, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (AP Photo / John Raoux)
Rory McIlroy produced a struggling 71 to target top runner Corey Conners after an upside-down second round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. </ When he was aiming for his first win in 16 months, the world number 8 was out of color on his irons but only took 26 putts as he mixed three bogeys with four birdies to finish third with Viktor Hovland with seven Sharing strokes and two strokes behind Canadian Conners
« It was very scratchy, » admitted McIlroy, who leads the field for putting. “There were a few mistakes left and right, but I know what to work on. It was a round of fighting, but I stayed in the tournament.
“I picked three of the par-5s, which is good here. If I got it in trouble, I got it out of trouble.
« I took some better punches, but I’ll be working on a few things here on the track now. I still have a great chance of going into the weekend. “
Quite the line. After this tee shot by @McIlroyRory in 6th place, there are still 159 meters to the hole. # QuickHits pic.twitter.com/QpzES7NcfR
Conners (29) followed his first 66 with a 69 and knocked on the 16th in a 24-foot run for an eagle three to get through a shot by Scotland’s Martin Laird, the 67 shot to lead to nine under.
Pádraig Harrington had 32 putts and ended up with back-to-back bogeys for a 74 that put him in 38th place, but it was another week that Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell had to forget when they missed the cut.
Lowry added a 74 to his opening 75 to hit a five-over-par alongside McDowell, who bounced back from his opening 79 with a 70 The reigning Open Champion struggled on the greens again, missing eight putts within 10 feet in the two days looking for putting strokes in the back of the field.
In a worrying trend For his hopes for the Ryder Cup qualification, the Clara-Mann (33) has in only five of his 16 competition rounds so far n broke par this season while McDowell missed three of his first four cuts.
After the Portrush man found water twice on the 11th, his second, to pull up an early double bogey six on Friday, he reacted with five birdies before taking another shot.
Meanwhile, Leona Maguire made three birdies in a one-under-71 to claim her first LPGA win at the LPGA Drive On Championship at Golden Ocala in Florida to fight.
The Slieve Russell star (26) stayed in sixth place with four out of six, just six shots behind Jennifer Kupcho and Austin Ernst who shot 6s7 and two to ten under the Spaniard Carlota Ciganda took the lead.
Stephanie Meadow had a tough day with her irons and carded a three-over-75 to return to 56th on two-over.
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