He finished his round right where he started: at 5-under for the tournament. He carded an even-par 70 for his second round.
“Pretty mediocre,” McIlroy said of his play on Friday. “Overall, I hit it a little better off the tee. I had a couple of big [misses] on 7 and 15. But I don’t feel like I played too different to how I played yesterday. I just got a bit more out of my round yesterday.”
The day before, McIlroy shot a 5-under 65, despite hitting just three fairways. His miraculous ‘hit and hope’ birdie at the par-4 17th was the highlight of the day, which put him in a share of the lead after the first round.
Fast forward a day, and McIlroy now sits five back of Max Homa, who blistered Olympia Fields en route to shooting the course record.
At the par-4 7th, one of the holes McIlroy alluded to, he pushed his tee-shot miles right of the fairway. He was lucky to escape with a par, thanks to an eight-foot putt he holed.
Later, at the par-5 15th, McIlroy rifled his tee ball deep into the woods right of the fairway, forcing a penalty drop. That led to his first—and so far only—bogey of the championship.
Yet, 34-year-old has not been penalized too much for his inaccuracies thanks to the soft conditions at Olympia Fields.
The Chicago-area course has received over two inches of rain this week, and the players have taken full advantage.
“I certainly haven’t played a golf course where the greens have been this soft in quite a while,” McIlroy said.
“But there are still some greens that you’d almost rather—especially to some of these back pins—you’d rather be hitting out of the rough than out of the fairway because it won’t spin back on you. Hopefully, it firms up over the weekend, and if it does, we’ll all have to hit a few more fairways.”
On the few occasions McIlroy found the short grass off the tee, he had the green light to attack the flag stick.
For instance, on the 10th hole, McIlroy hammered his tee shot 334 yards over the bunker on the left corner of the fairway. It was arguably the best drive he hit all week.
“That [second] shot into 10, that was 105 [yards], so I have like a 105-yard shot with my sand wedge, which is the lowest shot that I have,” McIlroy explained. “So if I went to another wedge, say my 50-degree wedge, I don’t practice hitting my 50 [degree] 105 [yards], so I don’t really know what swing to put on it. That’s as easy as I can hit a sand wedge, and I tried to take spin-off, and it still spun.”
McIlroy’s second shot at 10 landed once and spun off the front of the green, thus eliminating any chance of making a birdie.
That happened a few times Friday.
But he would rather have that happen than find the penalty area off the tee.
Nevertheless, the four-time major winner must find more fairways if he wants to track down Homa. Because right now, McIlroy ranks dead last in driving accuracy at the BMW Championship, which does not happen often.