Rory bounces back in Malaysia

Rory McIlroy looks to have put August firmly behind him as he takes a tie in the lead in Kuala LumpurRory McIlroy continued to shrug off his Augusta blues today as he shot a faultless 8 under par, 64 to tie for the lead at the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur.

After his back nine capitulations at the Masters on Sunday, the young Northern Irishman jumped straight on a plane for a round the world flight to Malaysia which includes a twelve hour time change. This denied him the chance of a practice round at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club and if anyone thought things couldn’t really get any worse for the 21 year old then they were wrong. McIlroy found out straight after landing in Malaysia that his clubs had been lost en route and that he’d have to wait and see if they’d be found in time for the tournaments start on Thursday.

Luckily for Rory, his clubs arrived on the morning of his first round, allowing him just enough time for a two hour practice session before going out onto a course he’d never seen, let alone played before.

Speaking after his first round 69, Rory looked exhausted, the time change appearing to be catching up on him. However, his words did not reflect his looks. “Many people seem more upset about Sunday than I am,” the man from Holywood said, “I’m not being big headed or cocky, but I’ll have dozens of more majors to contend in.”

Come Friday, McIlroy defied critics implying his performance would drop as the week progressed and he became more tired. Paired with World Number One Martin Kaymer, also arriving from Georgia, he showed no signs of an Augusta hangover and after starting on the back nine, birdied three of his first four holes to jump to six under par.

Two pars followed on the 14th and 15th and at the drivable par four which is the 16th hole, McIlroy made another birdie taking him to five under. He made it back to back birdies at the 17th and rounded off the back nine with a par at the difficult, three shot, par five, 18th, to go out in 31. The 18th at The Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club has been causing the players problems over the first two days. Measuring a substantial 638 yards, added to the fact it plays uphill all the way, it has proved to be a rare difficult par five for the Professionals who usually see every Par five as a birdie opportunity.

McIlroy’s front nine didn’t contain as many birdies as the back but he managed to avoid any errors and dropped no shots coming in. He took advantage of the two par five’s on the front side, birdying them both to move to 7 under for the round.

McIlroy capped off a magnificent round with a birdie two at the 203 yard par 3, 8th before paring his last, the 9th, to card an eight under 68 and tie Swede Alex Noren for the lead at the halfway stage.

His driving of the golf ball has been exemplary and towering iron shots constantly setting up birdie chances, just like at Augusta last week. The only difference, he says, between the first two days, was that he “holed some putts”.

There’s definitely a call for some improvement on his putting in the near future. McIlroy seems to lack the automatic nature that a 21 year old Woods had. When Tiger won his first Major at the 1997 Masters, his putting from within 10 feet was the best in the world, and ultimately was the main component of his near domination of the golfing world over the next decade or so.

There’s no doubt McIlroy will be up there again and his experiences last Sunday will help him no end. If he gets the putter working, then with the quality of his long game, he definitely has the chance to win his First Major. Who knows? It might even be this year.

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