McIlroy Birdies The Last In Near Darkness To Brightly Emerge With The Italian Open Lead

A closing hole birdie in near darkness saw Rory McIlroy emerge brightly with a one-stroke lead on day two of the DS Automobiles Italian Open at Marco Simone near Rome.

McIlroy was tied for the lead with fellow US Open champ Matt Fitzpatrick on eight-under-par and played his drive down the last at next year’s Ryder Cup host course when the siren sounded for play to be halted due the poor light.

Under Tour rules, players are allowed to complete the hole they’re on and with McIlroy chipping his third shot to just under six-foot, and holing the birdie putt in his round of 66 and finish in front of Fitzpatrick at nine-under, and after Fitzpatrick has signed for a 69 in sunny and far less testing windy conditions of the day prior.

“It was better today, especially on the back nine,” said McIlroy

“I took advantage of some of the more birdieable holes.  It was pretty tough the front nine, the wind just sort of kept it nice and steady ,one-under and had a nice finish and probably saved myself from getting done tomorrow.  Obviously looking forward to the weekend.

“I still need to tidy up a few areas but overall, a few good par saves which you always need”.

Though for a second day running, it was a slow lane start for McIlroy and again moving into the overtaking lane over his inward nine.

McIlroy was one-over for his round after 10 holes before collecting the third birdie of his round in chipping to four-feet at the short par-4 11th.  He then capped his round at the par-5 12th hole sending a 186-yard drive from the semi-rough to 13-foot behind the flag and rolling-in the eagle ‘3’ putt.

The World No. 2 was now three-under for his round and advancing to four-under in stunning manner, holing a 34-footer for birdie par-4 14th and moving into a share of the lead at eight-under.

McIlroy dropped a shot at the next but again joined his fellow US Open champion tied for lead with a six-footer for birdie on 16 ahead of nudging in front on 18.

The recently crowned triple FedEx Cup champion is making a first visit to Italy since capturing the 2006 European Amateur near Turin.  Since turning pro in late 2007, he’s won the Hong Kong Open (2011), US Open (2013), Australian Open (2013), the Open Championship (2014), Irish Open (2016) and Canadian Open titles (2019).

McIlroy will now square off alongside Fitzpatrick on day three.

“Yeah, I’m looking forward to it as ‘Fitz’ has had an unbelievable year, first major championship and he’s obviously matured into one of the best players in the world.,” said McIlroy.

“Looking forward to going up against him over the weekend”

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