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Rory McIlroy 15 shots off the lead with FedEx Cup defence all but over

‘It’s hard. I know that realistically there’s not much chance of getting in next week, but I still want to go out there and play well.’

Rory McIlroy.
Rory McIlroy.

RORY MCILROY’S HOPES of a late FedEx Cup rally continue on a downward spiral, with Round two at the BMW Championship not faring much better for the defending champion following Thursday’s slow start.

His round of 69 leaves him 15 off the lead — which is held by Marc Leishman — and in joint 50th place in Illinois. He’s shown signs of improvement, but remains well off the pace.

McIlroy came into the tournament in 51st place in the playoff standings, and only the top 30 after this week’s tournament advance to the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta.

Now sixth in the world rankings, he needs a top-four finish at Conway Farms to get there.

“It’s hard because I know that realistically there’s not much chance of getting in next week, but I still want to go out there and play well,” McIlroy said. ”I’m here, so I might as well try to play well and try to get the most out of myself.”

It’s been a season to forget for the 28-year-old, who is yet to register a win or a top-three finish on the PGA Tour, as the silverware drought continues.

He’s already eyeing 2018: “I completely expect myself to play well next year.

“If I have a really good off-season and prepare and practice on the right things, come out mentally fresh and physically fresh, I feel like ’18 will be a really good year for me. And that’s sort of where my mind is at.”

Meanwhile, Leishman carded eight birdies in a seven-under 64 round on Friday to extend his lead heading into the weekend. Fellow Australian Jason Day and American Rickie Fowler trail by three strokes.

“The game’s feeling really good,” Leishman told the PGA website. “Obviously rolling the putts really well.

“But you still have to give yourself the opportunity. So, excited about the first two rounds, but a lot of work to do.

“And last week I showed that a couple of shots going in the back nine is not enough. So, hopefully I can keep doing what I’m doing. A lot of great players just behind me.”

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- Additional reporting by OmniSport

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