McIl­roy saves par at wild 10th

Af­ter weird start, late birdies sal­vage sec­ond straight 72.

Austin American-Statesman - - GOLF - By Doug Fer­gu­son

The closing stretch at Quail Hol­low pun­ished D.A. Points. He was 5 un­der, at the time just one shot off the lead, when he came to the 16th hole. Two holes and two dou­ble bo­geys later, Points tum- bled down the leader­board.

On the 16th, he drove into the left rough and played out to far to the right, leav- ing him a bad an­gle. He hit wedge to 25 feet, but rolled the down­hill putt about 6 feet by and missed that one com­ing back.

Then he headed to the par-3 17th, which played only 177 yards be­cause of the front pin tucked over the bunker.

“I was in be­tween clubs,” Points said. “I’m try­ing to chip a 7-iron and stopped on it and pulled it and it went in the wa­ter.”

Even so, he’s try­ing to re­mind him­self this has been a good year. Points won the Puerto Rico Open to get a two-year ex­emp­tion, and he has done well enough this sea­son to make it back to the PGA Cham­pi­onship.

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 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. Sim­ple.

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 at least sal­vaged the round with two late birdies for an­other 1-over 72.

“There’s still 36 holes to go and a lot of golf to be played,” he 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 slick.

“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.” be­fore he cleaned up a spot for him to take re­lief from a cart path. It didn’t do him any good. Spi­eth pulled his shot and went into more pine straw 111 yards from the pin. He tried to play that shot over a bunker and onto the green, but the ball hit a branch and dropped into more pine straw.

His fourth shot came up short of the green, and he chipped up and made the putt for bo­gey.

Three weeks af­ter a late surge helped him win the Bri­tish Open and claim the third leg of the ca­reer Grand Slam, the 24-year-old was try­ing to be­come the youngest player to have won all four ma­jor cham­pi­onships.

Af­ter end­ing the f i rst round five strokes off the lead, Spi­eth ac­knowl­edged he needed to close the gap dur­ing Round 2 to give him­self a chance.

4In­stead, the gap more than dou­bled.

A day af­ter Spi­eth didn’t make a putt longer than 5 feet on the new greens at Quail Hol­low, he made only two from 10 feet or longer — a 10-footer for par on No. 7, and a 12-footer on the 12th for his only birdie of the round.

“Things were in just such tough lo­ca­tions that it was hard to get the ball to feed to the hole,” Spi­eth said. “So it’s a tough track where they’re putting these flag­sticks. It makes it tough to score . ... Just re­ally didn’t get many looks to­day, so with one birdie, it’s go­ing to be hard to post a solid round.”

With the tricky greens softer and slower af­ter a 1-hour, 45-minute rain de­lay, Spi­eth missed birdie putts of be­tween 10 and 40 feet on three con­sec­u­tive holes, Nos. 15-17.

He also bo­geyed the par-4 18th af­ter he sent his tee shot into a fair­way bunker, then clipped the lip of the trap when he tried to es­cape and sent that shot left of the green and left his chip short, prompt­ing him to take an ex­tra swing of his wedge in frus­tra­tion. He missed a 10-foot par putt and tapped in for bo­gey.

“It was def­i­nitely a lot more get­table af­ter the rain de­lay than be­fore, no doubt about it,” Spi­eth said. “I played even par (ac­tu­ally 1 over) af­ter the de­lay, and that’s not very good in my opinion.”

Ki s ner f aced tougher, faster con­di­tions in the morn­ing and holed a 50-foot eagle putt from short of the green on the par-5 sev­enth hole. When his round was over, Kis­ner had a five-shot lead over the play­ers from his side of the draw.

It didn’t look as though any­one would get close.

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