CROMWELL Conn. – Rory McIlroy held the lead of the Travelers Championship only over 11 holes on Friday. Then disaster struck.
On the 12th par-4 of TPC River Highland, the Northern Irishman pulled his tee shot out of bounds, then struck a provisional hit into the right rough. With 154 yards from the hole, his approach shot ended in the bunker on the greenside. He then hit his bunker shot over the green and would eventually card a quadruple bogey 8.
Another story for McIlroy happened on the 15th par-4. He cut his ride to the spectators on the hill. After he cleared the weeds, it looked like he would avoid another disaster with a clean 54-foot look to the hole. However, he shoved his chip into the water and carded a double bogey.
“For whatever reason, I haven’t felt comfortable with my fairway wood in the past few weeks,” said McIlroy after his round of 70 with a tie. 15. It really was. I played well the rest of the way. I obviously started well. I thought I was coming back well. I made a good putt for 6 out of 15 and then a birdie of 16.
“Yes, I should be closer to the lead. It feels like I’ve allowed a lot of guys into the golf tournament because of that.”
One of those guys was his playing partner, Kevin Kisner, who moved to T-2 with a second round of 64. However, Kisner still recognizes McIlroy (T-7) as a threat this weekend thanks to an opening 62 and seven birdies in Round 2 .
“I think it’s pretty impressive [McIlroy] shot right with a quad and a double,” Kisner said, “so he plays great golf. Just a bad swing really and there you go.”
McIlroy has risen to No. 2 in the world rankings – his highest ranking in two years – behind his last six starts, including a runner-up at the Masters, fifth at the Wells Fargo Championship, eighth at the PGA Championship, T-18 at the Memorial, a win at the RBC Canadian Open and a T-5 at the US Open last week.
McIlroy, who has six shots to Xander Schauffele’s 14 lead, won’t dwell on some bad swings as he still has 36 holes to play in Connecticut.
“There is still a lot of time left and I know there are so many birdies on the golf course for me,” said McIlroy. “It’s just a matter of not trying to force the issue, being patient, and if I keep playing golf that I know I can play, hopefully I’ll get a little bit closer to that lead.”