• Shoots level par 71 in awful afternoon conditions
• "I'm quite happy with my two rounds of golf," he said
RORY MCILROY | THE OPEN
Rory McIlroy is optimistic as he plots a Saturday surge at Royal Troon but is fully aware of how tough it'll be to catch Phil Mickelson at the summit.
The four-time major winner is currently eight shots behind Mickelson but refused to blame the bad end of the draw for being so far adrift and said he was actually pleased with how he'd played as he battled to a level par 71 in horrendous afternoon conditions.
"I'm quite happy with my two rounds of golf," said Rory McIlroy. "I feel like I've played very well. I kept it together in the conditions quite well. On the back nine I had a bit of a bad run around the turn and missed two short putts in a row but I held it together nicely coming in and played the last five holes in one-under-par.
"It's the Open Championship. Some draws go your way and some draws don't. The last Open I played, I got the good end of the draw and good things happened that week. Then this year it's not so much. But I'm not going to let being on the wrong side ruin my mood or ruin my week.
"I feel like I've played very well and that gives me optimism going into the weekend. And I played the front nine well especially. So if I can get off to a similar start tomorrow and get a little closer to the leaders, play the back nine a little better, you never know."
Rory McIlroy played the more favourable front nine in three-under-par in his second round and is targeting a similarly fast start there on Saturday if he is going to close the gap on Mickelson and Henrik Stenson at the top.
"You've seen guys shoot four, five, six-under-par on the front nine so if I can do that I'll get closer to the leaders," said Rory McIlroy. "The back nine, no matter what wind you get, is going to be very difficult. So, again, just try to get off to a fast start.
"But I feel like it's possible. There are 36 holes to go. Obviously the guys at the top of the leaderboard are playing very well. I had a chance to watch Phil yesterday afternoon and this morning, and it's the best I've seen him play in a long, long time. His swing's good. He's got his ball flight under control. He seems like he's putting well.
"And obviously Henrik and the guys that are up there as well, they're going to be tough to beat. But I've given people head starts before and been able to win, and I'm just going to try to draw on those memories."
Rory McIlroy :: Can he still win?
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