The second round of the Emirates Australian Open dawned with a lot of promise for Rory McIlroy. After a 2-under first round at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney that was a little edgy because of jet lag, he went to bed early to try to catch up on his sleep.
Playing again with Aussies, Geoff Ogilvy and Matt Jones, both PGA Tour members, it was a comfortable pairing. And it started well enough.
He settled in with pars on the first two holes.
But then things started going the wrong way with bogeys on 3 and 4.
But he got one of them back with a birdie on the par-5 5th.
And then gave that one right back two holes later with a bogey on 7.
But at 2-over at that point, he wasn’t giving up; he birdied 9 to get it back to just 1-over and still 1-under for the tournament.
There was a lot of commentary around how this Jack-Nicklaus redesign was playing difficult and stealthily, what with the shifty winds and tricky green complexes. Everything looked like a beautiful summer day, but you could never quite trust what the wind was going to do. Geoff Ogilvy said that the green runoffs that would carry an imprecise shot down into the chipping areas were extremely difficult…in a good way he added as an afterthought. Presumably meaning that they made it a worthy test. Oh, and the greens were running at 12 on the Stimpmeter.
With McIlroy’s birdie on the 11th he finally got it back to even on the day; a hard day’s work.
And then he bogeyed 12 and 13 fall back to 2-over again.
But, ho, hum, he cleaned those two messes up with an eagle on the par-5 14th.
And gained a little more traction with an immediately following birdie on the par-3 15th.
Only to bogey the 16th to fall to even again.
But with his talent and patience, he finished with birdies on 17 and the par-5 18th. He went for the green in two on 18, but trying to draw the ball around the bunker to the back left pin, he overcooked it and left himself with the “hardest shot in golf,” the long bunker shot. He hit it to three feet, if that, and sank the putt for a hard-fought round of 2-under.
That got him to 4-under and T2 and one stroke behind the leader, Greg Chalmers. Chalmers got to 5-under by shooting 5-under and demonstrated that he could be dangerous because he did it with two bogeys.
Chalmers’ 5-under tied Adam Scott’s course record 66…which was beaten by American, Jamie Lovemark’s 65 (T17). In his interview, Scott said he didn’t think his record would hold up. But it did get him back into the tournament (T9) after shooting 74 the first day.
First round leader, Jordan Spieth, was able to stay in the picture in spite of a 1-over 72. That dropped him to 3-under for the tournament and T6, but just two strokes behind.
Other successful Americans include Texas A&M alum, Conrad Shindler (4-under, T2), Boo Weekley (1-over, T25), Patrick Rodgers (2-over, T39), Garrett Sapp (3-over, T48) and Kyle Stanley who made the cut on the number (4-over, T55).
Good news for all of them, but in his post-round media session McIlroy said that he played much better Friday than Thursday. He just had a few little mistakes due to misjudging the wind. That he thinks that way after making six bogeys is why he’s the No. 1 player in the world.