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Contrasting Fortunes

Spieth crashes out as aggressive McIlroy stays in the mix

World number one staying positive despite uncharacteristic early exit.

WORLD NUMBER ONE Jordan Spieth crashed out of the Northern Trust Open last night with fellow American Jason Kokrak leading by a single shot and Rory McIlroy firmly in the mix after the second round.

Reigning US Open and Masters champion Spieth bounced back from the worst opening round of his career with a three-under par 68 — 11 shots better than Thursday — but still missed the cut.

Spieth said that sloppy iron play and not enough practice time on the driving range was his downfall but he vowed not to brood over his disappointment at the Riviera Country Club.

“I will be ready to go in the next tournament. I am not going to let this one get to me very much,” said Spieth.

“We rebounded in perfect form last year on just about every missed cut. We’ll be fine.”

It was just the third missed cut in the 22-year-old Texan’s past 20 worldwide starts and the first time he has missed one since last year’s Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston.

Long-hitting Kokrak surged up the leaderboard with a seven-under 64 to finish at 10-under 132 after 36 holes in the $6.8 million US PGA Tour event. Chez Reavie fired a 67 and is alone in second at nine-under 133.

American Dustin Johnson, who finished second to Bubba Watson at Riviera in 2014 and lost a sudden-death playoff to James Hahn last year, shot a 66 and was tied for third with Watson (68) and Troy Merritt (66) in the event, which concludes the tour’s west-coast swing.

World number three McIlroy had another solid round with a two-under 69, leaving him tied for seventh at six-under 136, four adrift of Kokrak.

Dubliner Padraig Harrington sits nine shots off the lead, in a tie for 51st, as he followed his opening round of 71 with a one-under-par 70 yesterday, making the cut with one shot to spare.


McIlroy started quickly with birdies on two of his first three holes on what is considered a shot-makers course.

And McIlroy certainly had that part of his game on display yesterday, especially on the par-five 17 where his aggressive approach saw him reach the green in just two while his playing partners Hideki Matsuyama and Matt Kucher both laid up. His eagle putt stopped two feet short for an easy birdie.

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“I just need to get off to a fast start tomorrow, get myself close to the leaders and play a good, solid round and see where that puts me going into Sunday,” McIlroy said.

Kokrak, ranked ninth on the tour in driving distance, is seeking his first win on the PGA Tour. His best finish was a second at the Open four years ago.

© AFP, 2016

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