Rory McIlroy and his amazing cart-path par at PGAThe Associated Press — By DOUG FERGUSON - AP Golf Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Rory McIlroy saw his second shot sail toward the gallery at the PGA Championship, so he knew it would be right of the green on the par-5 10th hole at Quail Hollow.
He just never imagined it would be 100 yards away.
Or that he would be playing on a different hole.
Unfortunately for him, the ball hit a cart path. Worse yet, the path headed down a steep slope toward the 11th fairway. By the time it finished bouncing, McIlroy had to drop the ball in a patch of thick grass so far down the hill that he had to get creative with his escape.
"It was really the only option I had," McIlroy said. "I dropped it in a pretty bad lie, so I couldn't carry it over the cart path. So I hit a 6-iron. Just said, 'OK, I'll bounce it up the cart path and see where this goes.'"
He punched the 6-iron and it skipped twice along the cement path with so much speed that it went into the bunker, out of the bunker, onto the green and across the green until it settled in the light rough on the other side. He chipped down to a foot and tapped it in for his par.
As he waited to tee off on No. 11, McIlroy leaned over and whispered, "For what it's worth, it's 110 yards if you're ever down there."
It was an amazing start, and the most excitement he delivered Friday. But he needed so much more.
For the second straight day, McIlroy went through a bad stretch of holes that sent him further away from the lead. He got out of position off the tee, couldn't hit the right shot toward the green, and made four bogeys on a five-hole stretch early on the front nine.
He at least salvaged the round with two late birdies for another 1-over 72. As he was wrapping up his round, he saw a leaderboard that showed Kevin Kisner at 8 under for the tournament, and suddenly McIlroy's bid to end a three-year drought in the majors became that much more difficult.
He was 10 shots behind going into the weekend.
"There's still 36 holes to go and a lot of golf to be played," he said. "As I said, I still feel I'm right there in the tournament."
McIlroy is no stranger to rallies at Quail Hollow. This is where he recorded his first PGA Tour victory, when he was on the verge of missing the cut until an eagle on his 16th hole got him into the weekend. From there, he shot 66-62 and won by four shots over Phil Mickelson.
McIlroy won again at Quail Hollow with a 61 that sent him to a seven-shot victory.
But this isn't the same golf course. More than the club overhauling three holes of the opening stretch, it switched to a Bermuda grass that can lead to gnarly lies off the fairway and around the green, and putting surfaces that can get as quick as any greens they play all year.
"I guess a low round used to be a 61 or a 62," McIlroy said. "A low round now is a 66 or a 67. You're playing your (tail) off to get that. I'd say if I shoot two 67s over the weekend, I'm going to have a really good chance."
McIlroy was not surprised by some of the names on the leaderboard, but the scores by their names.
"This is not the Quail Hollow we have gotten to know over the last 10 years," he said. "It's a completely different golf course. Even if they didn't do anything else with the golf course and just changed it to full Bermuda like it is now, all of a sudden it makes the golf course two shots more difficult."