SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France (AFP) - Rory McIlroy fired a brilliant five-under-par 66 to surge into a share of the lead after his second round of the 100th French Open at Golf National on Friday (July 1).
The Northern Irishman is in a five-way tie at the top of the leaderboard heading into the third day.
Finn Mikko Ilonen, South African Brandon Stone, Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee and South Korean Jeunghun Wang are all level with McIlroy on five under par overall.
The world number four struggled with swing trouble in his opening 71, but he had no such problems on Friday.
McIlroy dropped his only shot of the day on the 18th hole when he hit his tee shot into the water and took a bogey five.
Birdies at the third, sixth and seventh holes got McIlroy off to a quick start, and a four on the par-five ninth pulled him to within one of the leading mark.
Two further birdies on the back nine gave him sole possession of the lead, and it could have been even better for the four-time major champion if not for narrow misses for birdie on the 10th and 16th greens, and that wobble at the last.
Nevertheless, after the disappointment of missing the US Open cut at Oakmont less than a fortnight ago, McIlroy was delighted to find himself firmly in contention ahead of the weekend.
“I played very well, I didn’t really put a foot wrong until the 18th,” he said.
“I’m really happy with how I played out there. I’m still continuing to work hard and think hard on my golf swing, but it seems to be working so far this week, so I’ll continue to do that.
“It was disappointing to make five at the last, but it won’t be the only bogey I make this week.
“Hopefully I can get it back quickly again tomorrow morning and retake sole possession of the lead.” McIlroy now looks primed to push for a second title of the season, after his victory in the Irish Open, and the 14th European Tour crown of his career.
“I putted really well today, even the ones that didn’t go in looked like they would go in. But 66 on that golf course in those conditions... I’ll take that any day,” he added.