Anirban Lahiri: Rory McIlroy’s recovery highlight of second day’s play | other sports | Hindustan Times
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Anirban Lahiri: Rory McIlroy’s recovery highlight of second day’s play

“On the second day, Rory McIlroy was into red figures with three birdies and in Top-10 even before the front nine was over. By the end of it, he was 68 for the day and one under for the event. It was a superb recovery indeed,” writes Anirban Lahiri after the Day 2 of the British Open.

other sports Updated: Jul 21, 2017 22:50 IST
Anirban Lahiri
Anirban Lahiri
Royal Birkdale, Southport
Rory McIlroy had a great Day 2 at the 2017 Open Championship.
Rory McIlroy had a great Day 2 at the 2017 Open Championship. (Twitter )

The Royal Birkdale is indeed one of the most challenging Links courses I have seen in my career which has featured four other Open Championships.

The first day saw Birkdale bare its fangs and the second morning saw it get even more fearful. There were hardly any red scores of under par. Even someone like Matt Kuchar, who scored five-under 29 on the front nine, had to tread carefully and returned with one-over 71 on Friday.

(Read | Anirban Lahiri: The putter let me down, but I will fight back)

The cold and the winds on Friday, which were way stronger than Thursday, left all the players in a tough situation. Watching it all before teeing off myself, I thought I just needed to keep steady and find fairways and greens. That in itself is tough here. A par score would be great. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.

My colleague and friend, Shiv Kapur too shot 73 in the first round like me and needed a strong performance on Friday.

By the end of the halfway stage, only the hardiest of golfers would survive because they would have made fewer errors and stayed focussed in adverse conditions.

(Read | Matt Kuchar claims share of British Open lead)

The ball flights change within a span of minutes. That’s the beauty of links golf. You’ve got to be switched on mentally all the time.

The late tee-off on Friday allowed me to watch the proceedings in the morning.

While watching golf on Friday morning, it was hard not to notice Zach Johnson and Rory McIlroy making noticeable moves. On Thursday, Rory shot four-under for his last eight to card 71 after being five-over for the first six holes. On the second day, he was into red figures with three birdies and into Top-10 even before the front nine was over. By the end of it, he was 68 for the day and one under for the event. It was a superb recovery indeed.

(Read | Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, Matt Kuchar in 3-way lead at British Open golf)

Rory got to the greens more often and gave himself ample chances. To his credit, he converted them. Both Rory and Zach (66) also avoided bogeys early in their rounds but did have bogeys towards the end.

Matt Kuchar, after his five-under front nine and all-par back nine on Thursday, was walking gingerly and finished with 71. He is four-under for 36 holes.

What really let me down on Thursday was the putting. But having said that, digging myself out of the run of bogeys on the back nine, is something I am proud of. A birdie and an eagle gave me a chance to do some damage control, but unfortunately that final bogey pushed me back.

(Anirban Lahiri is writing this golf article exclusively for Hindustan Times. Views expressed are personal)