Bogey free 67 for McIlroy but Mitchell holds the aces in Vegas

by Ronan MacNamara  

Rory McIlroy. By Golffile

Rory McIlroy shot a bogey-free round of 67 to move to nine-under-par at the halfway stage of the CJ Cup at the Summit Golf Club in Las Vegas, but he trails runaway leader Keith Mitchell by nine shots who has opened up a five stroke advantage on Seonghyeon Kim, Jordan Spieth, Harry Higgs and Adam Scott.

Meanwhile Shane Lowry shot a two-under round of 70 to move into the red for the tournament at one-under.

McIlroy was electric on the front nine as he opened with a birdie and then carded three birdies in four holes before he made the turn.

The four-time major winner was not as clinical on the par-5s as he was in round one as he played them in two-under-par compared to four-under on Thursday.

He did end a run of eight consecutive pars with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 18th after finding the fairway bunker off the tee.

The Holywood native will be encouraged by his performance on the greens this week, ranking 4th in strokes gained putting which has bailed him out at times with his poor approach play.

At nine-under he is just four shots off second place, but a distant nine shots behind Mitchell who is the runaway leader after rounds of 62 and 64.

Mitchell has obliterated the field on the greens gaining 7.8 strokes on the field and of course is leading the tournament in strokes gained putting. That has been combined with accuracy off the tee as he is 2nd in strokes gained off the tee.

“I'm definitely excited and pleased. I spent a lot of time in the last few days leading up to this tournament working hard on my game and it's showing. I'm very thankful for that. Just shows you that hard work pays off as long as you're doing the right things. My putter's definitely been nice and my speed has been a lot better this week. If those two things stay through this weekend, hopefully I can keep hitting in some quality shots and capitalizing.

“Happiest with my putting and my approach to putting. Disappointed in the only bad shots I feel like I've hit this week are shots where I wasn't certain where to hit them on the green. It's a new golf course, none of us have ever played it, so if you have a tucked pin, well, if you miss it over here, is it okay or is it not okay. It was kind of the case on 10 today where I wasn't really sure, I was kind of between clubs and just never committed to hitting a proper shot and flared it out to the right, and unfortunately that led over to the bad swing on 11.

“But you're going to make bad swings and you just don't want to make bad swings that are your own fault. Unfortunately, those two are my own fault. But if I'm sitting here saying I'm 18 under with only two bad swings, I'm going to take it every time.,” he added.

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