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Dublin: 5°C Thursday 25 February 2021

McIlroy loses ground, Tiger dances with the cut as Finau shares lead at Memorial

Woods looks set to sneak into the weekend if the cut settles at +3.

IT WAS A tough day for Irish golfers and the biggest name in the game alike at the PGA Memorial tournament today.

Rory McIlroy lost ground on the leaders and, at the time of writing, his par round leaves him seven shots shy of joint-leaders Tony Finau and Ryan Palmer (-9).

The Down man had to be content with par despite carding four birdies and an eagle, his round regressing to the mean through a double bogey at the 11th and final bogey on 17 to put him at -2 entering the weekend.

“I don’t know what it was,” said McIlroy, who dunked a ball in a creek at 11 and landed his approach from the fairway eight feet from the pin for eagle at the fifth. “It was a few birdies and an eagle thrown in there and a few mistakes.

“There’s some good in there, some mediocre and there was some pretty poor shots,” McIlroy said. “But I battled back well.”

Shane Lowry won’t be around for the final rounds after his +3 round of 75 today. The Open Champion birdied the fifth, but bogeyed three of his next four holes and gave a further shot back on 17. Graeme McDowell shot an opening round 79 and 76 today to leave the course with a +11 next to his name.

Tiger Woods struggled with back issues on his way to a four-over par 76 and a flirtation with his first-ever missed cut at this tournament.

The 44-year-old 15-time major winner, whose total ranks second only to the 18 won by Memorial host Jack Nicklaus, made five bogeys and a double bogey against three birdies in round two after an opening 71 on Thursday. Leaving the course, it seemed likely that he would miss the cut, but his +3 now seems like it will be enough to sneak under the wire.

“Not very good,” Woods said. “I three-putted two holes early. Whatever momentum I was going to create, I stifled that early and struggled the rest of the day.”

Woods said his back began bothering him when he was warming up before the round, noting, “It’s going to happen more times than not these days.”

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His back, which like his knees has been surgically repaired multiple times, affected his swing, saying, “It was a bit of a struggle.”

pga-the-memorial-tournament-presented-by-nationwide-second-round Woods at the 13th today. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Woods had not played since February at Riviera and the back issues come with the year’s first major in a COVID-19 shuffled schedule coming on August 6-9 at the PGA Championship at Harding Park in San Francisco.

“I would like to have the opportunity to play tomorrow,” Woods said. “Hopefully the cut will fall one more and I’ll have the opportunity.”

Woods, who began on the back nine today, put his approach to three feet at the par-3 12th and made birdie, but missed a three-foot par putt at 13 and sent his first three shots into the rough on the way to a bogey at the par-5 15th.

World number 14 Woods found a fairway bunker and needed four shots to reach the green on his way to a bogey at 17 then made a double bogey at the first to begin his second nine of the day.

Bogeys at the par-4 second and sixth holes followed before Woods bounced back with birdies at the par-5 seventh and par-3 eighth. But he needed three shots to reach the green and a seven-foot putt to salvage par at the last just to have hopes at making the weekend.

Jon Rahm is the closest challenger to Finau and Palmer as he is just a shot adrift on -8. Gary Woodland and Chaz Reavie share fourth place on -6.

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