British Open might be another Rory runaway

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland shoots from a bunker on the 16th hole during the second round of the British Open at Royal Liverpool on Friday in Hoylake, England. McIlroy leads the tournament for the second day in a row after shooting a second six-under-par 66. (Stuart Franklin / Getty Images / July 18, 2014)


The Rory Story became an international bestseller again Friday.

Young Mr. McIlroy, Northern Ireland's 25-year-old golfing phenom, dismantled a Royal Liverpool course that is supposed to be resistant to that sort of dissection. That's why it is in the British Open rotation.

He leads the tournament by four shots after 36 holes, and only a sparkling round of 65 by Dustin Johnson, best of the week, made the lead that small.

McIlroy shot a second consecutive 66, is 12 under par, and if you are looking for a sports star in a zone, get a tape of Friday's round.

McIlroy has been spotted long ago as an amazing talent. Even (you only dare whisper it if you are a U.S. golf fan) the next Tiger Woods. He has won two major titles, the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional and the PGA championship the next year at Kiawah Island in South Carolina.

Notable was that he didn't just win, he ran away and hid. He won both by eight shots.

But his play here, purring along like a new Porsche engine, has dazzled even the most veteran of observers.

"He really put it together today," said Tom Watson, who has won the British five times and made the cut here at age 64. "He's a young man who can really play."

McIlroy started with a bogey and had the media center buzzing: "Here we go again."

He has had a tendency to start fast in tournaments and fall on his face the next day. The media has labeled those his "Freaky Fridays."

Among the most notable was the 80 that followed his record 63 in the first round of the British Open at St. Andrews in 2010.

Nor has he done well in the British.

His rally to third place at St. Andrews was his best. His other finishes have been 42nd, 47th, 25th and 60th.

Also, the bad Friday rounds have continued recently.

Not this Friday. He was just freaky good.

"It's nice to go out and shoot a good one today," McIlroy said, "so I don't have to be asked about it again."

He stands 5 feet 10, weighs 160 pounds and hits the golf ball like you'd expect from LeBron James. The source of the leverage is a mystery, other than perfect timing and technique. He drove one 396 yards on the 17th hole Friday to set up a short chip to birdie range.

"I said yesterday, in hindsight, that I should have hit driver off No. 17," he said. "Today I went with it and it worked out well."

Those 396-yard drives usually do.

McIlroy's two previous major titles do not bode well for those chasing him.