Rory McIlroy delighted with strong start to WGC-HSBC Champions
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 01/11/19 12:02pm
Rory McIlroy is reaping the rewards of consistency in his short game after getting himself within a shot of the halfway lead at the WGC-HSBC Champions.
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The world No 2 posted four consecutive birdies on his way to a second successive 67 at Sheshan International Golf Club, signing off his round with a close-range eagle at the par-five last.
Fitzpatrick leads in Shanghai
Report and highlights from the second round of the WGC-HSBC Champions.
McIlroy heads into the weekend on 10 under and a shot back from 36-hole leader Matt Fitzpatrick, with the Northern Irishman pleased with his performance as he challenges for a first World Golf Championship victory since 2015.
"Delighted with the first two rounds," McIlroy said. "To put myself right in contention going into the weekend is something that I wanted to do.
"It's something that I haven't done a lot of over the last few weeks. I've sort of had bad starts and then clawed my way back into a good position at the end but to be right in the tournament after two days, I'm excited.
"I think my short game has been really good, which takes the pressure off your long game, so I can be a little more free with my long game, go at a few more pins and be a little more aggressive and because of that, I'm hitting it closer and giving myself plenty of chances for birdies.
"If I do miss, I've got my short game to ball back on and rely on and I've been able to get the ball up-and-down very well the last few months. All of that combined with the second shots, and confidence if I do miss a green, that's been a key to shooting some of these low scores."
McIlroy will go out in the final group on Saturday alongside Schauffele and Fitzpatrick, who closed his bogey-free 67 with back-to-back birdies to move top of the leaderboard.
"The back nine, I putted fantastic, as good as I've putted all year," Fitzpatrick said. "It's where you want to be, at the top after two rounds. Obviously better to be there for four, but it's a good start to the week.
"Getting a little bit more comfortable with my game than last week, so hopefully carry on over the weekend. I've been fortunate enough to be in this position a few times already this year. A little bit different being a WGC.
"It means a little bit more to everyone. Still the same plan. Still trying to hit fairways and greens, and really that's the key around here is if you keep it out of the rough, you've got a good chance."
Watch the WGC-HSBC Champions throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues on Saturday from 2.30am on Sky Sports Golf.