PGA Championship: Four late birdies get Rory McIlroy in for the weekend
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 18/05/19 7:24am
Rory McIlroy staged a superb fightback to avoid missing his first cut of the year at the PGA Championship after he made a "horrendous" start to his second round.
McIlroy got himself into all sorts of bother with a succession of wayward tee shots early on day two, mistakes which led to double-bogeys at the 10th and 12th either side of another dropped shot at the 11th.
It represented his worst start to any round in his major career and, although he clawed one shot back at the long 13th, he dropped back to seven over par with a bogey at 15 following another visit to the thick rough.
The 30-year-old looked certain to be packing his bags when six straight pars left him four strokes outside the projected cut mark with only six holes of his round remaining, but he revived his fortunes with a perfect 12-foot putt for birdie at the fourth.
WATCH: McIlroy's horror start
Rory McIlroy looked to be crashing out of the PGA after dropping five shots in three holes
McIlroy's renewed confidence with the putter was evident as he holed from outside 20 feet on each of the next two greens, and he did well to get up-and-down from short of the green at the seventh when his gouged second from the rough failed to make the carry.
He then holed his third lengthy birdie putt in four holes at the eighth to give himself some breathing room, and a cast-iron par at his final hole completed a spirited 71, although that left him 10 shots adrift of first round leader Brooks Koepka as the defending champion warmed up for his second round on the range.
Asked what spurred him on over the last third of his round, McIlroy said: "Pride, just pride. Just trying to play a good round of golf and try to get something that's close to the best out of myself.
"I don't like missing cuts. It's not something that I'm used to fortunately, and I wanted to be around for the weekend. And at least if you're around for the weekend, you can go out there and maybe shoot a good one tomorrow and at least give yourself half a chance.
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"I thought if I could get to four over, that would have a good chance. I wanted to shoot three under on my back nine, and I said to Harry going up the 18th, 'Let's not shoot any worse than I shot yesterday - let's make 72 the worst score we're going to shoot.' And it was nice to go one better than that and shoot one over in the end.
"I was four over after three holes in Boston a couple of years ago and ended up winning the tournament, and that came back into my mind after I made that start. Or you go back to Birkdale a couple years ago where I was five over through six and shot 71, and all of a sudden I had half a chance on the back nine that day.
"So in a way it's calming. I've been in this position before and I've been able to come back. It's just a matter of not pressing too much and staying patient and letting the good golf come through. Took a while today, but it eventually got there."