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Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy couldn't believe the way the wind treated some of his shots on Friday. (Getty Images)

McIlroy still optimistic after shocking second-round 80 in the wind

Rory McIlroy set another record – a bad one this time – by following up his opening 63 with a shocking 80. He was calm afterward, though, and believes he's still got a chance to win.

By Melanie Hauser, PGATOUR.com Correspondent

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- Rory McIlroy still hasn’t shot in the 70s at the Old Course.

The young man who had cruised through nine pristine professional rounds here in the 60s does, however, have a new high round to go along with the opening 63 -- and share of the record for low round in any British Open -- he shot Thursday.

Think 80. As in 8 over par. As in a 17-shot swing from the first round to the second.

That was with a putt up from the Valley of Sin that took the bank, rolled back off the green and turned into a two-putt par at the final hole. And three pars to open the day. And some impressive holding-it-together down the stretch.

And, hate to mention it, it was also another record. An ignominious one.

Of the 22 players who have shot 63 in a major, McIlroy’s 80 is the worst follow-up round. The previous worst? Tom Weiskopf backed up his 63 at the 1980 U.S. Open with a 75. Now it’s McIlroy by five more.

The worst follow-up round by a leader at a major in the modern era was Mike Donald, who shot 64-82 at the 1990 Masters. McIlroy is one of three players to have a 17-shot turn around.

Ouch.

The first-round leader at this 150th Anniversary Open steadfastly refused to blame the 40 mph gusts or the 65-minute wind delay. Although he wasn’t entirely sure taking players off the course was necessary.

Cue the shot of one of the game’s rising stars making a raspberry with his tongue at the final hole. Or the one of the curly-headed 21-year-old -- hands in pockets -- shaking his head. Or, well, pick a hole. Or a shot.

It was one rough day for one of the nicest players in the field.

“I don't know, it was just very, very difficult out there,’’ McIlroy said after his round. “I think all the guys were finding it tough this afternoon, and I just let it get away from me a little bit.  I actually did well to par the last three holes, if I'm totally honest.  It could have been an 82 or an 83.’’

The good news?  Other than this day is over?  McIlroy is a realist and a half-full kind of guy, so the positive would be that he’s here for the weekend and he heads into the final 36 holes 10 shots behind second-round leader Louis Oosthuizen and five back of Mark Calcavecchia.

Not exactly what he planned when he left the course Thursday with a two-shot lead. And, no, he’s never had an experience quite like this before.

“It was a lot of ups and downs -- more downs than ups today,’’ McIlroy said. “Yeah, it was very tough.  I could have let the round get away from me if I'm quite honest.  I was starting to get very frustrated.  But I did well to par the last three holes.  
“I'm just going to go back now and have a bit of room service and get some sleep and get ready for tomorrow.’’

And, no doubt, wonder if they day could have gone differently. The wind kicked up so hard this afternoon that after he teed off on the fourth hole, officials suspended play because balls were moving on the greens, especially, at the 11th hole.

When play resumed -- players simply went back to their spots with no warm up -- McIlroy hit a 7-iron into the green.

“I just spent 40 minutes sort of on a bus not really doing much,’’ he said. “So it was tough to come back and hit that shot.  But after that I just never really … I didn't mind making the bogey on 4 because I knew I had (the fifth hole) coming up, which is a birdie chance, and when I didn't make birdie there, I knew it was going to be tough coming in.
 
“But yeah, I mean, it was just a very difficult day and I found it very difficult, like a lot of the guys have.’’

McIlroy didn’t think they should have called players off the course.

“When we got back out there the conditions hadn't changed, the wind probably got a little bit worse,’’ he said. “It probably wasn't a smart move.’’

He refused to use that -- or anything -- as an excuse. He didn’t put the ball where he needed to, he said, on a brutally tough day.

The toughest hole may have been the 174-yard, par-3 11th where McIlroy doubled.

“I think it was so difficult I think a lot of guys were hitting it in the same place because you couldn't feel how strong the wind was at the tee box,’’ he said. “The tee box is so sheltered with that grandstand there.  Once your ball gets out of that little    maybe 50 yards, it just goes sideways.

“Tim Clark started his ball nearly at the grandstand, so it was just … that was probably one of the toughest holes on the course today.  I just didn't hit it hard enough.  You couldn't hit it hard enough.  It was straight back into the wind and up that hill.’’

Clark shot 80, too, leaving Lucas Glover low man in the threesome with a 76.

Just 24 hours ago everyone was talking about McIlroy putting himself in position to win his first major. So what are McIlroy’s chances of winning this Open now?

Realistically, he said, if you back out Oosthuizen and Calcavecchia, he’s only five shots back -- with 36 to play.

“It depends what the weather does tomorrow,’’ he said. “If the weather is quite calm, I feel as if I've got a chance to go low.  Even a little bit of wind.  But when it's wind like this, you're relying on other players to make mistakes.’’

The forecast calls for light rain Saturday morning, then winds, which could gust to 30 mph in the afternoon.

McIlroy knows it’s going to be tough.

“It all depends what the weather is like again,’’ he said. “If the weather is calm, I feel as if I've got a chance to go make a few birdies again and go low.  And if the weather is like this, the wind is like this again, you're relying on the leaders to sort of mess up a little bit because it's very hard to make ground when the wind is this strong.’’

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