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McIlroy finding top gear as he heads into weekend three off the lead
Brian Harman leads the Travelers Championship, but McIlroy is part of a strong chasing pack.

RORY MCILROY AND Bubba Watson are plotting weekend moves at the Travelers Championship as the pair sit three back from leader Brian Harman.

The two players had contrasting fortunes in the first round – a bogey on the final hole cost McIlroy a share of the lead, as Watson hit an ever-par round – and the same was true on Friday, but both men are in contention.

McIlroy only managed a one-under 69, with Watson a big mover to join the Northern Irishman in a tie for eighth, shooting a seven-under 63.

Harman, who earned his second PGA Tour win at last year’s Wells Fargo Championship, is in Ryder Cup contention and fired a four-under 66 to get to 10 under and hold a one-shot lead over three players.

But McIlroy, although frustrated with his second round, is confident that he is not far away and can challenge this weekend.

“I feel like I left a few out there,” he said. ”I didn’t hit the ball as good as I did [on Thursday]. It was OK, but I felt like I had a lot of good putts that just didn’t go in.

“I started them online, did everything I needed to do, and it’s just one of those days where they were sliding by the edges.

“I think, over the weekend, if I just keep giving myself chances, hit a few more fairways over the weekend than I did, and if I can keep doing that and keep giving myself chances, hopefully I’ll be able to move.”

Watson felt better about his performance and similarly believes he is in with a real chance.

He said: “I feel good. I didn’t feel very good after that [first-round] score, so backing it up, making some putts, shooting a good number, I’m not going to be too far back.

“There are 36 holes to go and I can always make a push.”

Defending champion Jordan Spieth fell away with a three-over 73, two-time reigning U.S. Open winner Brooks Koepka just made the cut at three under, but Patrick Reed fell one shot short.

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Leader Harman had seven birdies and three bogeys in the second round, shooting even par on his front nine but catching fire after the turn.

Zach Johnson, Russell Henley and Matt Jones finished Friday tied for second at nine under.

Johnson shot a bogey-free two-under 68, but could have had one better when his birdie putt hung on the lip of the cup on the par-four third hole. The ball eventually fell into the hole on its own, but his 10 seconds had passed, resulting in a par instead of a birdie.

Bryson DeChambeau, this season’s breakout player, is one of three players at eight under and a win this week would almost certainly earn him a spot on the Ryder Cup team.

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‘During the week the lads didn’t want to even be around me – I was that angry and that frustrated’

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