Rory McIlroy’s rollercoaster Open Championship continued with a battling 69 at St Andrews today.
Leader by two after his major record-equalling 63 and then down to 38th after slumping to an 80 in Friday’s winds, the 21-year-old fought his way back to four under par and then waited to see where it left him in the race for the Claret Jug.
Even a double-bogey six on the 17th, where he hit his approach up against the wall beyond the slender green, did not puncture his happier mood too much.
“It was great to come out and play nicely the way I did there,” said McIlroy.
“A bit disappointed with 17 obviously, but it was a good (birdie) three on the last.
“I felt as if I responded quite well to the way everything happened yesterday.
“I knew I was playing nicely – I’m not going to let one round of golf really get me down.
“I really struggled yesterday, but I think playing in such a strong wind made today feel not as bad, even though the wind was still quite strong.
“I definitely hit a few shots out there that I wasn’t able to play yesterday. I think it might have just been because I had 80 shots so I had a little bit of practice!
“I know what I’m capable of around this golf course and I know what I’m capable of in final rounds. Hopefully I get off to a fast start.
“I hit a good shot on 17, but just got a gust of wind that completely switched. I hit a seven-iron 210 yards and I had just hit a six-iron on the last hole 175.
“It was pretty unfortunate, but that’s links golf and you’ve just got to deal with it.
“I think it would have been very easy to let yesterday’s round sort of linger and I just completely got it out of my head and just went and tried to shoot a good score today.
“Depending on what happens tomorrow I’ll probably look back on the week and say ’If I could have just made that 80 a 75 or whatever’, but I’m still confident that I can go out and shoot a good one tomorrow.”