Rory McIlroy glad to be contending after second-round 63 at Colonial
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 13/06/20 7:35pm
Rory McIlroy was pleased to experience a quick transition back into tournament golf after moving within two strokes of the halfway lead at the Charles Schwab Challenge.
The world No 1 came into his tournament debut at Colonial Country Club off the back of seven consecutive worldwide top-fives, with McIlroy building on his early-season form by following an opening-round 68 with a seven-under 63 on Friday.
McIlroy posted six birdies and an eagle during an impressive second-round display in Texas, with his sole blemish coming on his final hole, leaving the Northern Irishman just two behind Harold Varner III at the top of the leaderboard.
"You can do as much practice as you want and play as much as you want at home, but until you actually get into that competitive environment, you're never 100 per cent sure of how your game is," McIlroy said.
"I learnt a lot yesterday and I feel like I made some improvements today on yesterday and learnt a few things. So no, not surprised. I've been playing well at home and I've been hitting the ball the way I've wanted to, just a matter of getting it to translate out on to tournament play, and it's nice that it has.
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"This is a golf course that's always let the best players rise to the top. You have to be in complete control of your game, hit fairways, hit greens, convert some putts, and yeah, the leaderboard is a who's who of golf right now. I'm just happy to be in the mix."
Beginning on the back nine, McIlroy opened with three straight pars before following a 15-foot birdie at the par-three 13th by picking up shots from six feet at the next and four feet the 17th.
McIlroy got up and down from the sand to save par at the 18th to reach the turn in 32, only to hole a 25-foot eagle at the par-five first and make a 10-foot birdie at the next to jump up the leaderboard.
The world No 1 posted back-to-back birdies from the sixth to leave him requiring a final-hole birdie to equal the course record at Colonial, where he was forced to lay up to avoid hitting branches and had to convert from eight feet to leave with just a bogey.
"It [the round] was really good," McIlroy said. "I felt like I built my score really well. I took advantage of some of the easier holes.
"I played conservatively on some of the tougher ones, especially 3, 4 and 5, the horrible horseshoe. I made three of my pars there and moved on and then birdied the next two holes.
"Just smart, played to my strengths, put it in play and gave myself plenty of chances. I felt pretty comfortable out there and hopefully I can do the exact same thing over the next two days."
Watch the Charles Schwab Challenge throughout the weekend on Sky Sports Golf. Live coverage continues on Saturday with Featured Groups from 1.30pm, ahead of full coverage from 6pm.