October 3, 2014 / 6:23 PM / 4 years ago

McIlroy climbs Dunhill leaderboard after birdie blitz

European Ryder Cup player Rory McIlroy celebrates as he wins 5&4 on the 14th green against U.S. Ryder Cup player Rickie Fowler during the 40th Ryder Cup singles matches at Gleneagles in Scotland September 28, 2014. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

(Reuters) - A run of five birdies and an eagle in the last 12 holes took Rory McIlroy within five strokes of tournament leader Raphael Jacquelin at the halfway stage of the Dunhill Links Championship on Friday.

The world number one, who suffered something of a hangover from last week’s European Ryder Cup victory when he opened with a one-over 73 at Carnoustie, worked his way back into contention with a second-round 67 at Kingsbarns.

“My eagle at the 16th sort of kick-started something for me,” McIlroy told reporters after ending his round at the ninth hole. “From there I started to knock a few putts in. 

“I felt like I struck the ball pretty well for the first couple of days but just to see a few putts roll in gave me a little bit of confidence and I played well after that.”

Jacquelin (70) finished with back-to-back birdies at Kingsbarns to establish a one-shot lead over Irish pair Padraig Harrington (70) and Shane Lowry (70), fellow Frenchman Alexander Levy (68) and overnight leader Oliver Wilson (72) of Britain.

Lowry’s effort came at St Andrews, the other course being used this week.

“I didn’t play that well, not as well as yesterday,” said Jacquelin. “It was not that easy, there was a bit of wind, a bit of rain and it was a bit cold as well.

“But I think the course was not playing as difficult as I expected.”

Writing by Tony Jimenez, editing by Ed Osmond

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