A day after striking a shot that was also precisely one inch at the 123rd U.S. Open, Rory McIlroy came one inch short of perfection on the par-3 ninth hole.
McIlroy, who had a round of 3-under par on Friday, took a 7-iron up to the 168-yard ninth hole and came close to making the fourth hole-in-one of the week.
The Los Angeles audience went into a frenzy with his last full swing of his second round.
McIlroy has a fantastic opportunity to end his nine-year major title drought at the Los Angeles Country Club after starting the tournament on Thursday with a 5-under par 65.
When his round was through, he was one stroke behind the leader.
The Northern Irishman’s tee shots have been blistering, as shown by the fact that he leads the field in strokes gained off the tee.
After Friday’s round, McIlroy remarked, “Going into this week, the key for me was going to be if I could put the ball in play.” “You can go from there and provide some scoring chances. That’s basically my strategy for the next few days. I believe I’ll be alright if I put the ball in play off the tee.
McIlroy has put on a ball-striking masterclass by connecting on 21 of 26 fairways. The 2011 U.S. Open winner has led the field after 36 holes after hitting 29 of 36 greens in regulation and making 13 birdies.
Despite his victory, McIlroy had a difficult start to his second round, which began on the back nine.
He made a bogey after hitting his tee ball into the thick rough on the long par-3 eleventh hole.
He promptly recovered with a birdie at 12, but immediately followed it up with another missed opportunity at 13.
At hole number 17, McIlroy had another bogey after missing the fairway, which was unusual for him at LACC.
McIlroy was sitting at 3-under par at the time, and it seemed as if he might falter.
But McIlroy turned up the fire on the front nine once again.
He parred the first nine holes of the LACC in five under par for the second day in a row, with birdies of 1, 3, 5, 6, and 9. The difficult par-3 fourth hole, which he bogeyed, didn’t faze him.
From the front nine to the back nine, there is a significant difference in score, according to McIlroy. “The first nine offers you a few par-5 holes, some scoring possibilities, and several wedges in your palm. Simply said, the back nine is much harder. The last three holes—16, 17 and 18—play challengingly despite the generally favourable weather outside.
McIlroy used an iron to lay up at the challenging little sixth hole, struck a wedge in close from there, and putted for a simple birdie.
The previous day, McIlroy attempted to drive the putting green but was unsuccessful, resulting in an unimpressive par.
Then, on his last two holes, McIlroy was only inches away from completing eagle-eagle. He made a birdie putt on the par-5 eighth hole and then came close to an ace on the ninth.
McIlroy had a good opening couple of days and is expected to play in one of the last groups on Saturday at primetime.