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Everybody’s chasing Rory: Tiger tanks, narrowly makes cut

HOYLAKE England (Reuters) — This time there was no freaky Friday for Rory McIlroy as a majestic second round gave him a four-shot stranglehold on the British Open at a sweltering Royal Liverpool course.

Several second round blow-outs this season, the most recent at the Scottish Open, meant all eyes were on the 25-year-old Northern Irishman to see if he could capitalize on his one-stroke overnight lead rather than shoot himself in the foot.

Apart from a jittery bogey on the first, his only dropped shot so far, he was immaculate, racking up seven birdies for a second successive round of 66 for a 12-under total of 132.

Tiger Woods attracted huge galleries but a triple bogey at the 17th meant the 14-times major champion needed a birdie at the last to make the cut by his fingernails.

Fellow Americans Rickie Fowler and Ryan Moore were in a formidable group of six players on six under, which also included Italy’s Francesco Molinari, popular Spaniard Sergio Garcia, 2011 U.S. Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and 2010 British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen.

McIlroy walked off the 18th green with the stride of a man in complete control and afterwards he told reporters that far from any Friday nerves, he had felt an “inner-peace.”

“My second rounds this year have been terrible,” McIlroy told reporters. “And there isn’t really any explanation. But hopefully I put it to bed today.”

Thunderstorms predicted for Saturday could complicate matters, but McIlroy said he was right where he wanted to be.

For the second day in succession Woods made a terrible start — only this time it was worse.

At level-par the 38-year-old was still heading comfortably into the weekend but calamity struck on the 17th where, after going out of bounds he ran up a seven.

Lesser players would have cracked completely but the American showed tremendous focus to claim his first birdie of the day on the 18th to put him on the +2 cut line.

“I got off to a terrible start again. I had some opportunities to make a few birdies along the way to get back to even par for the day and I just never did,” he said. “I’m pretty far back. Luckily I’ve got two rounds to go. And hopefully I can do something like Paul (Lawrie) did in ‘99.”

World No. 1 Adam Scott, who began the day two shots off the lead, dropped shots at the second and third holes, both par fours into the wind, although he did earn one back at the fifth.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson eagled the fifth hole on his way to a two-under 70 that left him a distant 12 shots off the lead.

U.S. Masters champion Bubba Watson missed the cut on four over.