The Players: Rory McIlroy concerned he will miss cut again as Justin Thomas enjoys blemish-free round
The Players Championship resumes at 8.15am (local time) on Sunday, with coverage live from midday (UK time) on Sky Sports The Players; The PGA Tour remain hopeful of getting 72 holes completed at TPC Sawgrass by Monday night
Last Updated: 13/03/22 7:41am
Rory McIlroy is sweating over the prospect of missing the cut at The Players Championship for the second year running.
After completing the final three holes of his opening round, carding 73, the 32-year-old Northern Irishman shot another 73 in his second in challenging conditions at TPC Sawgrass to end the day two-over-par.
That leaves McIlroy outside the projected cut and while further wind and rain could help his chances of sneaking through, the former world No 1 admits he faces a nervous wait.
"I don't know. I might be one short," he said. "We'll see what happens tomorrow. Obviously, the double (bogey) on seven was very untimely.
"I thought if I birdied the last and got to one-over, that should be good enough. I did everything I should have done on nine. I hit four good shots, but the putt just sort of didn't want to go in.
"Hopefully I've done enough. I mean, it just depends on the conditions tomorrow for the other guys.
"It was very tough. The front nine was a little more sheltered so it probably didn't play quite as tough. But some of those holes on the back nine are so exposed, like 16, 17, 18, it's brutal out there. Hitting those tee shots on 17 and 18 and just keeping them dry and walking forward is nice."
Given the severity of the conditions, questions have been raised about how fair it is that one side of the draw has had it so much worse than the other, but McIlroy was diplomatic on the issue.
"You get your good ones, and you get your bad ones," he told reporters. "You have to believe that they all even out over the course of a year or a career, I guess.
"I've certainly been on the good side of a draw many times, and I've been on the bad side a lot too. But at the end of the day, I feel like it all just sort of evens out.
"It sucks that the bad end of the draw is this tournament, but it is what it is."
Thomas: One of my best rounds ever
While McIlroy faces a nervous wait, Justin Thomas produced one of the rounds of the day in the same group to keep himself in contention to become the first player to win the tournament in consecutive years.
The 28-year-old shot a blemish-free 69 in the second round to move to within three shots of the lead, currently held jointly by Tommy Fleetwood and Tom Hoge on six-under.
Thomas was delighted with his performance and ranked the round among the very best he has played.
"I don't know what I'm happier about, I'm obviously ecstatic to be done but I'm even more pleased to finish the day bogey-free," he told Sky Sports.
"I played one of the best rounds I've played in a very long time, if not ever. I'm just proud of how patient I stayed today."
He added: "I just tried to hit as many greens as I possibly could today because I knew it's really hard to chip it close. It's really hard to make even two-, three-, four-footers with that wind. I just, especially all the par-threes, I'm like, just put this ball on the green, just get it on the ground.
"It's soft enough that it's not going to run away from you, and just two-putt and move on, and I was able to sprinkle in a couple of birdies.
"I'm thrilled with how I played and how I competed today. It was a very, very tough day, and I just stayed very patient and executed well.
Asked to describe the conditions, Thomas said it was more akin to playing in the UK than what you would normally expect in Florida.
"Comical is a word that comes to mind," he said. "Because of how soft it was, it wasn't unplayable or anything, the balls weren't rolling off the green. But that was Open Championship-like. It was a lot of feel out there, for sure."
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