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Rory Rises to Top of Deutsche Bank Championship after Second Straight 65
Rory McIlroy showed Saturday in the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston why he's the world's No. 1-ranked player. The 23-year-old Northern Irishman carded his second consecutive 6-under 65 to take over the top spot on the leaderboard after 36 holes in the $8 million event, the second stop in the four-tournament FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Starting his round on the 10th tee, McIlroy - who began the day three shots back of South Korean Seung-Yul Noh - quickly became a factor on the front nine with three birdies and an eagle at the par-5 18th (his ninth hole). On the home half the reigning PGA champion added three more birdies against two bogeys to each 12-under 130, one stroke ahead of South African Louis Oosthuizen, who also shot a 65. Ryan Moore and Tiger Woods, who both posted 68s, are two back at 132.
When asked what how far under par the eventual winner will have to go, McIlroy demurred, saying, "Now that I'm in the tournament, I just want to play as well as I can and maybe reassess things going into the last day.
"But I was very happy with the two scores that I've got already and know that I need to go out and play just as good tomorrow to give myself a chance going into Monday. It sounds weird, but yeah. So I'm not really thinking of a target at the minute." (See below for his full post-round interview.)
Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion at St. Andrews and runner-up to Bubba Watson at this year's Masters, was also happy with his performance, which included five birdies, a chip-in eagle on the par-4 fourth hole (his 13th) and a bogey. He'll be paired with McIlroy in Sunday's third round; the Deutsche Bank Championship will have a Labor Day finish on Monday.
"Played really well," said Oosthuizen. "I hit the ball nicely. Hit a few loose drives out there but gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities. It got a bit difficult, I think, during the last few holes there. The greens were firming up quite a bit. But yeah, it was - all in all, I'm quite happy."
Both Moore and Woods followed up their opening 64s with 3-under-par 68s efforts to reach 132. Moore had four birdies, an eagle on the 18th and two bogeys Saturday. "I hit good shots, good iron shots, and had actually pretty reasonable putts on all of them," said the Tacoma, Wash., native, who needed 31 putts. "I think that's the key is to - I'm putting it in the fairway, giving myself those opportunities with the irons and I'm hitting the irons solid."
Woods needed one less putt than Moore en route to carding five birdies and two bogeys. Woods knows he needs to take fewer strokes on the short grass at TPC Boston. "My speed is good, it's just that I need to make a few more," he told reporters of his putting. "I had a bunch of looks today. When the golf course gets like this, it's gettable, because all three par 5s are reachable, and the greens are receptive enough that you can attack."
Sharing fifth at 133 are Noh - who posted an eagle, birdie, double-bogey and bogey Saturday for an even-par 71, Jason Dufner (66), Chris Kirk (70), Charl Schwartzel (65) and D.A. Points (65). Noh, who's won twice on the Asian Tour and once in Europe, knows he's not out of the tournament by any means. "It's just two, three shots behind and next two rounds the next two days, good," the 21-year-old said. "A few missed today but still a good chance for the scoring."
Dufner missed the first Playoffs event, The Barclays last week at Bethpage Black in New York, to rest up for the remaining three tournaments. So far, he feels he's on the right track and hopes for continued improvement the next two days. "The game has just been really good," said Dufner, who despite his layoff came into this week sixth on the FedEx Cup points list.
"Unfortunately I've had some poor weekends, but I've had some good weekends, too," Dufner added. "You know, it's just kind of one of those things, Thursday and Friday have been pretty good for me, so hopefully that will roll over to the weekend."
Sharing 10th at 134 are Bryce Molder (69) and Charley Hoffman (67), and another shot back are John Senden (69), Dustin Johnson (68) and Jeff Overton (71). David Hearn (69) and Phil Mickelson (68) are tied for 15th at 136.
For the first two rounds Mickelson has used a claw putting grip and likes the new technique. "(It feels) really good, especially on the short putts, and I made three 15-footers today for birdie that felt really good," said the four-time major winner. "And if I can get myself in position to be aggressive and hit some good iron shots, I think I can make a good run."
The cut line was set at 2-over 144. Defending FedEx Cup champion Bill Haas has shot rounds of 71 and 72 to qualify for the last two rounds by a stroke, and the winner in The Barclays, Nick Watney, followed up his opening 72 with a 69 to also make the cut. Major champions Vijay Singh (73, 69), Keegan Bradley (71, 73), Padraig Harrington (70, 74) and Graeme McDowell (74, 70) did too.
Among those who didn't were Justin Rose (75, 70), K.J. Choi (70, 76) and Watson (75, 72). Despite not making the 36-hole cut, both Rose and Watson have enough points to be among the top-70 in points and move on to next week's BMW Championship at Crooked Stick in Indiana. Choi is at No. 99 and won't move on.
Also eliminated from the Playoffs are Ricky Barnes, Rory Sabbatini, Greg Owen, Michael Thompson and Cameron Tringale.
For all the scores, visit http://www.pgatour.com/r/leaderboard.
After signing his scorecard, McIlroy sat down with reporters and discussed his day. Here's what he had to say.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Rory McIlroy after a second consecutive 6 under 65 in round 2 of the Deutsche Bank Championship. Just some comments on the round and then we'll open it up and take some questions.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, very pleased with how I played today, how I played yesterday, as well, and in a great position going into the weekend. I got off to a nice start and sort of just kept the momentum going. So yeah, I mean, everything seemed to work pretty well out there. I felt like I drove the ball a bit better today and hit more fairways, which gave me some more opportunities to make birdies, and I was putting well enough to take a few of those. Yeah, you know, pleased with where I am and looking forward to the weekend.
Q. You said before the tournament you thought maybe 15 to 18 under would be a target winning score. Two rounds in, are you still thinking along those lines, or would you like to amend -
RORY McILROY: You know, now that I'm in the tournament, I just want to play as well as I can and maybe reassess things going into the last day. But I was very happy with the two scores that I've got already and know that I need to go out and play just as good tomorrow to give myself a chance going into Monday. It sounds weird, but yeah. So I'm not really thinking of a target at the minute.
Q. What's the condition of the golf course? Is it soft?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it's pretty soft, but I've found that our last nine holes today, the wind started to switch and started to swirl all over the place. It was tough to pull the right club. You're in between and you're in two minds with what to hit. It might be a little tricky out there this afternoon. I think guys might find that clubbing a little tricky.
Q. On No.2, was that what happened, where you went for it? Can you talk about your thought process, and you almost pulled it off?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it was 241 pin. I think it was like 219 front. It was in between 3 iron and 5 wood. I had to really get all of a 3 iron to carry it onto the green. And 5 wood, you know, I was trying to start it left of the pin and cut it off that left side, because that was the only way I was going to get it the right distance. If I hit it straight, it was going to go too far. I felt that I'd try and err on the long side rather than on the short. I just came out of it a little bit and went right into the water. But that was a really tricky little pin position there on the second. If you lay up, you're going to have to hit a really good shot to get it close to try and make birdie. I think you'll see more - I'm sure it played a little easier yesterday, but you'll probably see just as many bogeys as you do birdies there today.
Q. What was the distance and the club on 18, and when that pin is up front, how tough of a shot is it from where you were playing from?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it was 215 pin, I think. I hit 4 iron. It was actually okay. Because the wind was into us a little bit, you could be a little bit more aggressive. But with that new front left side of the green, it allows you to feed the ball in a little bit. It's actually a more appealing second shot, I think, which is nice, especially to that front pin. Obviously if they put the pin at the back of the green, you're very conscious of going over the back because you're going to leave yourself a very difficult shot.
Q. Anything in particular working better for you this week than last week?
RORY McILROY: My putting. Yeah, I think there's been a big improvement in my putting from last week to this week. I wasn't very comfortable on the greens at all last week. They weren't the best surfaces. I think everyone saw that. You're trying to deal with green speeds that are a little different and loads of spike marks, and it was - I just found it very difficult on the greens last week, and this week the surfaces are much better, and it gives you a little more confidence that you can roll your putts at the hole a bit more.
Q. And when your game gets a little bit off, you don't really do much besides check with Michael? You don't ever really -
RORY McILROY: Yeah, not at all. I don't feel like I need to. Anything that does go wrong is usually something very, very basic, very simple, and the same with my putting. If I need to work on something, I'll do a couple sessions with Dave Stockton, and I did that and I didn't feel like I putted particularly well at the Open, at Lytham, and spent a few days with Dave at Akron, and then he was there at the PGA, as well, and it seemed to help. Yeah, I mean, usually when my game goes off, there's not much wrong with it, I hope.
Q. You came off the first green after that birdie, Caroline (tennis star Wozniacki) was right there, you gave her a big smile. Even when she's not here, she's here in spirit, but having her walk the course, how does that help you?
RORY McILROY: It's nice. It's nice to see her out here. I think everyone would still love her to be in New York, but unfortunately that isn't the case. But it's nice. It's great to have her support out here, and obviously when she's not here, she's trying to follow as much as she can and watch as much as she can. I'm happy she's here. I feel like it's good to have her support, and it's good to see her out there. Hopefully she's enjoying it a little bit, too.
Q. Have you noticed you have more men following your gallery on the days when she's following you?
RORY McILROY: (Smiling) I haven't. I haven't. But thanks for pointing that out. (Laughter.)
MODERATOR: You talked about 2 and 18. If you'd just run us through your birdies, bogeys, and then we will get you out of here.
RORY McILROY: Do you want me to start on the back nine where I started from? The 12th hole, I hit a driver into the left rough. It was playing quite a lot downwind this morning and hit a lob wedge from 105 yards to maybe 12 feet past the pin. Made that. 14, I hit a drive and a 9 iron to a couple feet. 15, I hit a driver and an 8 iron to five feet. And on 18, driver and a 4 iron to 15 feet. First hole, hit a 3 iron and a sand wedge just behind the hole, 18 feet. Bogeyed the second, hit it in the water my second shot, hit it on the green and two putted. Third hole, hit an 8 iron long left, just on the fringe, had like a 60 foot putt, left it 10 feet short and missed that. Fourth hole, I hit a 3 wood just over the back of the green, chipped it up to four feet, made that. Fifth hole, driver, 7 iron, pin high left, eight feet. And that was it. Parred the rest.
MODERATOR: Rory, we appreciate your time, and keep it up.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.