Rory McIlroy raises game but top-four finish looks out of sight

Rory McIlroy may be struggling to defend his FedEx Cup trophy but he showed yesterday that at least he’s willing to put up a fight. His second-day 69 left him one-under-par for the tournament but that was way off the pace being set by leader Marc Leishman on 15 under par.

Jason Day and Rickie Fowler are on 13 under par.

McIlroy made a horrible mess of the sixth hole, shooting a double-bogey five.

But he showed character to birdie the next two holes, and then again at the 12th with a chip shot from 135 yards that was an inch from the hole.

And even when he spoiled that with a wayward drive at the 13th which forced him to chip out square, he came back with two more birdies.

At the KLM Open Lee Westwood moved into contention with a bogey-free second round of 65 which left him three strokes off the lead at the halfway stage.

Westwood hit six birdies to finish on seven under par on a day when clubhouse leader Joel Stalter added a 67 to his opening round 65 to emerge as the clear leader.

Rookie Stalter is now in a strong position to claim his first European Tour title, one stroke ahead of Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, with German Sebastian Heisele a further stroke back.

Meanwhile, Dubliner David Carey produced another roller-coaster round to lead the home charge alongside Ardglass ace Cormac Sharvin in the Irish Challenge hosted by Mount Wolseley Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort.

The Castleknock native (21) was challenging the top 10 before he triple-bogeyed his 12th hole to flirt with the cut line before going eagle-birdie-birdie in the middle of his back nine to add a 71 to his opening 72.

The Europro Tour regular is tied for 14th place with Sharvin, who fired a super 68 to get to one-under par and trail leader Oscar Lengden of Sweden by seven shots on another mixed day for the Irish in Co Carlow.

Just four of the 23 home players made the three-over-par cut as overnight leader Lengden shot a second successive 68 to lead by three shots from Julien Guerrier of France.

Ruaidhri McGee is tied for 22nd on level par after a 69 while Ulsterman Chris Selfridge holed out from 104 yards on the 18th for an eagle two for a 72 to make the cut on the mark.

Irish Boys champion Mark Power (17) had the joint lowest round with a 67 but despite improving by 16 shots on his first round, the Kilkenny amateur missed the cut by three shots.

Ulsterman John-Ross Galbraith eased his way into the second stage of the European Tour Qualifying School as he produced a fourth consecutive sub-par round over the Roxburghe course in Scotland.

The 23-year-old ended the first stage with a 72-hole aggregate of six-under-par 282 for a share of 11th place. Colm Moriarty missed out on two-under-par 286, which left him tied for 31st spot, after shooting a 73.

Belfast Telegraph

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