Rory McIlroy will need a strong round Saturday to make the final round cut at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am after shooting a 3-over 75 at Monterey Peninsula that dropped him to 1-under following the second round.
Making his first start on the PGA Tour this season, McIlroy opened with a 4-under 68 on Thursday at Spyglass Hill, which is widely considered the hardest of the three courses in the event. He will have an opportunity to make up some ground Saturday at Pebble Beach, with the forecast calling for continued good weather through the weekend.
If he can rally to make the cut, Sunday’s final round will also be played at Pebble Beach.
It is the first time McIlroy has entered the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and he is partnered with his father. McIlroy began Friday’s round on the back nine and was 1-under for the round and 5-under for the tournament when he reached the par-4 fifth hole.
He drove it to the front of the green and then lagged his eagle attempt about five feet past the hole. However, he missed his birdie, par and bogey putts – racing each past the hole without touching the cup. McIlroy finally got in on his fifth putt, carding a double bogey. He went on to drop two shots over the final four holes.
It was a disappointing stretch for McIlroy, who came to California full of confidence after taking time off to completely heal the rib and back injuries that plagued him throughout 2017.
McIlroy has moved up three spots to No. 8 in the world since the beginning of the year thanks to a tie for third at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and a second-place finish at the Dubai Desert Classic.
Several players noted McIlroy’s strong form during practice rounds this week, and the 28-year-old sounded motivated to put last year’s struggles behind him and answer critics who question whether his window among the elite of the sport is closing.
“Over the hill, getting old,” McIlroy quipped to The Dan Patrick Show before Friday’s round about his critics. “But I guess it’s all in context. And you think of the guys that are coming up and coming through. Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas … all of these guys are younger than me. And they’re the guys that are winning majors, and I haven’t won one in a few years.
“I can see where they’re trying to go with it, but I feel like I have time on my side. I feel like the last sort of year has been a struggle with injuries and everything, but I’m definitely over that and past that, and ’18 could be a really good year for me.”
McIlroy nearly made another headline in referencing the oft-strained relationship between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson when commenting on how the team chemistry might be an issue if playing in a group with Presidents Clinton, Obama and Trump.
He was also asked if there was anyone on Tour he would prefer not to be paired with in a tournament. While declining to name names, McIlroy offered that the notoriously slow players are difficult to play with.
“They’re never going to adapt theirs to play quicker, so the faster players have to adapt,” he said. “We see each other every week, so it’s just wasted energy to have these little niggles with everyone. I try to get along, but yeah, there are some people that I would rather not be paired with.”
–Field Level Media