Rory McIlroy faces a tough weekend at Bay Hill as Viktor Hovland takes the lead after the second day of testing

RORY MCILROY insists he will be ready for the conditions today and armed with patience after admitting he was caught by the ‘glassy’ greens in the second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.

The overnight leader started his second round two shots behind Viktor Hovland, who took advantage of the easier morning conditions to hit the best map of the day at six-under 66 to take over by two shots at nine-under par.

McIlroy bogeyed the first but shagged fourth, seventh and eighth to join Hovland at the front.

But as the course dried and the greens firmed, he couldn’t birdie the par-5 12th or 16th and lost confidence on the greens, hitting the 15th from 30 feet and then missing an eight-foot for on the 17th Par before he last didn’t have a 14-foot chance.

A flat par 72 left the Holywood star in second place, along with Tyrrell Hatton and Talor Gooch, who both shot 68, on seven under.

He later admitted it was one of the most trying days he has experienced at the Orlando venue and patience would be key over the final two days.

“I don’t think maybe it’s quite as fiendish as the weekend last couple of years because the fairways are kind of soft,” said the co-down man, who will serve in the penultimate group with Gooch as Hovland’s partner Hatton .

“But those are the greens you see late on a Sunday, not late on a Friday.

“It will be interesting to see where they go from here but it will be a good test over the weekend. I’m glad I got 18 holes in these conditions because the course has definitely changed a lot since I played it yesterday morning to this afternoon. I’ll be a little better prepared tomorrow.”

Just 18 players broke par, with only three of those results coming in the afternoon wave – Gooch with a 68 and Cameron Young and Lucas Herbert with 71 seconds.

“They’re going to be — yeah, glassy and tight and — you know, they’re going to be tricky,” says McIlroy of what he expects from the greens next Sunday. “You just have to land it on your spots with the right spin and trajectory.

“So you just have to be so, so precise when the greens are like that. It puts even more emphasis on hitting the ball in the fairway so you can add some spin to the ball to control it on those greens.”

It took five hours to get around and McIlroy is hoping to go faster despite the weekend’s difficulties.
“It was slow,” he said. “It always gets slow when the greens get so difficult and so tight and so fast. Playing with two balls in the next few days will be a bit faster.

“But that’s the point. Just not getting frustrated over the weekend, be as patient as possible. Again, just trying to make pars and hitting a birdie here and there, that’s the game plan.”

Graeme McDowell slipped back to tied 30th after hitting water with his approach and running up a triple-bogey-seven in a four-over-76 on the 11th.

Pádraig Harrington added a 74 to his 73 to make the cut to the mark in the three-over when Séamus Power missed the eight-over after following an 80 with a 72 with four birdies and four bogeys. Rory McIlroy faces a tough weekend at Bay Hill as Viktor Hovland takes the lead after the second day of testing

Fry Electronics Team

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