McIlroy lurks after rare bounce, strong finish

Fri Sep 12, 2014 3:16pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A bizarre bounce of his ball into a spectator's pocket and an unexpected birdie-birdie finish helped Rory McIlroy surge into contention for the Tour Championship with a sizzling display in Friday's second round.

The world number one, hunting his fifth victory of the year worldwide, fired a five-under-par 65 on a steamy day at East Lake Golf Club to finish at six under, two strokes off the lead in the PGA Tour's fourth and final playoff event.

After sinking a nine-foot birdie putt at the 12th, McIlroy did well to par the 14th after his tee shot sailed into trees before the ricocheting ball ended up in the right-hand pocket of a spectator's shorts.

McIlroy shook hands with the bemused golf fan and shared a brief laugh with him before getting a free drop in the right rough, from where he hit his second shot to 20 feet and comfortably two-putted for par.

The Northern Irishman then stunningly moved into a brief share of the lead with a birdie-birdie finish, sinking a 20-footer at the 17th before coaxing in a curling 27-footer at the uphill par-three last.

"It was a really good way to finish," four-times major champion McIlroy told reporters after mixing six birdies with a lone bogey to shoot the best score of the day. "I think it really started out when I made a good par putt on 16.

"That kept the momentum of the round going," he said of a 13-foot putt for par at the 16th. "Did exact same thing yesterday, was able to birdie 17.

"And 18 was a bit of a bonus. I had a decent shot in there, but it was a pretty tricky putt up that hill with a lot of right-to-left breaks. I was trying to get it somewhere close to the hole. Once I hit it, I knew I had a chance. It dropped in."   Continued...

Sep 12, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Rory McIlroy hits a drive from the third tee box during the second round of the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports