It must have been Rory McIlroy’s evil twin who played the second round of the Memorial Golf Tournament in Dublin, Ohio on Friday. There is no other way to explain why, after firing a near-perfect 63 on Thursday, he would lay a stinker on the Muirfield Village golf course like he did on Friday. McIlroy, or whomever it was disguised as the 25-year old Irishman, began his day on the back nine and carded three consecutive double bogeys on Nos. 13-15 on his way to a 6-over 78 for the day.
To his credit, McIlroy never blamed the knee injury he suffered on the 7th hole on Thursday, diagnosed as a strain of his medial collateral ligament. “The knee is fine,” he said, adding “it was a little sore on the range this morning” before reiterating that it did not bother him on Friday. What did bother him was the trees at Muirfield. He hit three of them on No. 13 before recording the first of his three consecutive double bogeys and making the turn at 43. He recovered some on his inward nine, shooting 35 to finish at 6-over for the day and 3-over for the tournament. Still, the Ulsterman described his round as “not disastrous” and said he hit some good shots out there.
Paul Casey had a strong round on Friday to take the lead. The 36-year-old from Cheltenham, England had another 6-under par 66 to match his Thursday score, and at 12-under par leads the tournament by three strokes over Masters champion Bubba Watson. Casey, who teed off late in the day, said he woke up and checked the scores to see how his fellow countryman McIlroy was doing, and how many under par he was going to have to shoot to take the lead on Friday. As it turned out, he did not need much. He started on No. 10, and after carding a birdie on the 11th hole, had the lead to himself. Going 5-under on the par-5 holes alone, Casey cruised the rest of the afternoon.
Watson had his chances and started out hot, making four birdies and one bogey on the front nine to make the turn at 33. He played the back nine in even par, although he actually made very few pars for the rest of the day. Watson’s scores for his final nine holes were par-birdie-bogey-birdie-bogey-eagle-par-bogey-bogey. It was round worthy of a Mickelson highlight reel. One shot in back of Watson, at 8-under par, was Chris Kirk who is alone in third place. Two golfers, Hideki Matsuyama and Martin Flores, are tied for fourth place at 7-under.
Phil Mickelson, playing under the shadow of a reported investigation by the FBI and SEC concerning insider trading (reported in an earlier story in the Guardian Liberty Voice), had 33 on the back nine to finish at 2-under for the day and for the tournament. He is 10 shots back and tied for 37th. Defending Memorial champion Matt Kuchar just barely made the cut at 1-under par. Notable names who missed the cut include Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Y.E. Yang and Vijay Singh.
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Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky