Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy charged into the second-round lead at the star-studded Genesis Scottish Open on Friday, with Korean duo Tom Kim and Byeong Hun An in hot pursuit.
McIlroy, the world No. 3 and reigning FedExCup champion, carded a solid 4-under 66 at Renaissance Golf Club in North Berwick for a one-stroke lead on 10-under in the US$9 million showpiece co-sanctioned by the PGA TOUR and DP World Tour.
Kim fought to a 65 while overnight leader An endured the worst of the fickle Scottish weather as he ground out a 70 for a 9-under total. England’s Tyrrell Hatton carded a career low 62 for tied second as well.
“It wasn’t my best day, like yesterday,” said An, who opened with a career best 61 on Thursday.
“But it was pretty tough out there. It’s hard to hit a lot of shots close. Today it’s a lot windier and then it rained and it’s hard to judge the distance. I hit some good shots out there but just not close enough to get a birdie putt. I’m only one back, so we’ll see in the next two days.”
The 21-year-old Kim, whose third place finish at the Renaissance last year provided the springboard for his two PGA TOUR wins, missed a four-foot par putt on his last but remained confident he can challenge for a third victory.
“Yeah, definitely played some solid golf. Definitely gave myself a chance on the weekend, and just sticking to the game plan really well. Seen some improvements that I’ve put in on the off-week,” said Kim.
“I like this place. I obviously had good memories last year. After the season ended last year, I was really looking forward to coming back. This course really suits my eye. The weather needs to cooperate a bit but great feels and great momentum last year, and just trying to keep it up. It’s nice to be able to play well these first two rounds and hopefully just try to keep giving myself chances over the weekend.”
With more rain and high winds expected over the weekend, Kim is prepared to grind it out.
“Obviously it doesn’t help when it rains and stops, and it rains and stops,” said Kim. “It kind of ruins your momentum a little bit. Obviously Scotland, you don’t know what’s going to happen with the weather but it’s nice to put myself in position.”
McIlroy put on a stunning display of iron play in a 66 that moved him to his 11th career 36-hole lead/co-lead on a day when heavy rain on Scotland’s Golf Coast tested the world’s best.
The Northern Irishman is now in pole position for 16th DP World Tour win and 24th PGA TOUR victory before the focus turns to ending his nine-year wait for a fifth major at next week’s Open Championship – staged at Royal Liverpool where he lifted the Claret Jug in 2014.
“Well, I hit the ball really well tee-to-green. Gave myself a ton of looks. Honestly, it felt like four under was probably the worst I could have shot out there. But you know, it swings in roundabouts. I held a couple of long ones yesterday to shoot a good score, and then missed a couple today, but overall, really pleased with how the last two days have gone,” said McIlroy.
“Just, you know, take whatever the conditions and the golf course are going to give us. You know, I don’t really have any expectations. It would be silly of me to try to pick a potential target score to get to.”
World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler fired a 65 and will enter the third round in a share of seventh place on 7-under while defending champion Xander Schauffele carded a 66 for tied 29th, six shots off the pace with two rounds remaining.
Second-Round Notes – Friday, July 14, 2023
Weather: Mostly cloudy with showers. High of 62. Wind ESE 10-20 mph.
Third-round tee times: Due to forecasted inclement weather, third-round tee times will be 7-9:12 a.m. BST in threesomes off Nos. 1 and 10.
Cut: 77 players at 2-under 138 from a field of 156 professionals.
|1st||Rory McIlroy||64||66||130 (-10)|
|T2||Tyrrell Hatton||69||62||131 (-9)|
|T2||Tom Kim||66||65||131 (-9)|
|T2||Byeong Hun An||61||70||131 (-9)|
|T5||Sam Burns||67||65||132 (-8)|
|T5||Brian Harman||67||65||132 (-8)|