Rory McIlroy in contention with stoic round at rain-sodden Open

Updated 3:40 PM EDT, Fri July 20, 2018

Story highlights

Zach Johnson leads Open at six under

Tommy Fleetwood five under

Rory McIlroy four under

Carnoustie CNN —  

Bad weather and Rory McIlroy have not made easy bedfellows in the past, but the Northern Irishman was stoic under the deluge to lay down a serious marker at Carnoustie.

The 29-year-old said he played “no moan” golf as he compiled a second straight 69 in persistent rain Friday morning to sit two shots off the eventual halfway lead of former champion Zach Johnson and fellow American Kevin Kisner at six under.

McIlroy finished one behind England’s Tommy Fleetwood and Americans Pat Perez and Xander Schauffele.

Also on four under were last year’s runner up Matt Kuchar, fellow American Tony Finau and South Africans Erik Van Rooyen and Xander Lombard.

Tiger Woods carded a second consecutive 71 to end at level par as he chases a first major in 10 years.

Despite sitting six shots back, the former world No.1 insisted: “I’m certainly right there in it.”

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01:01 - Source: CNN
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In 2014 McIlroy was the winner of the Claret Jug at a sun-soaked Hoylake, but he refused to let the conditions get to him on Friday in his chase for a fifth major title and first for four years.

While some players thrive and use bad weather to their advantage, the former world No. 1, now ranked eighth, has not coped well when the elements have turned nasty.

At Royal St. George’s in 2011 a disgruntled McIlroy, the newly crowned US Open champion, bemoaned the fierce winds battering the English seaside course and said golf in those conditions wasn’t to his liking.

But at a damp and chilly Carnoustie, McIlroy said that while he may not enjoy the adverse conditions any better, he has “definitely learned to handle it a little better.”

“I just kept level-headed when I needed to,” he told reporters, still wet from his endeavors. “I didn’t let the conditions get to me. I wasn’t saying to myself, ‘Geez, I wish I was on the other side of the draw.’

“I just got on with it.”

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’Go down swinging’

McIlroy made his splash on the international stage as an 18-year-old amateur when the Open was last staged at Carnoustie in 2007, and he spoke in the build-up about how he hoped to rekindle some of that boyish enthusiasm.

He also stressed Friday the need to unshackle his game and play with more freedom. He thinks that’s what may have cost him a tilt at the Masters title in April when he faded in the final group alongside eventual champion Patrick Reed.

“I’ve been a little too careful and tentative in these big tournaments,” he added.

“I’m committed to making sure that even if I don’t play my best golf and don’t shoot the scores I want, I’m going to go down swinging and giving it my best.”

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