SYDNEY: Rory McIlroy set himself up on Friday to capture a first victory this season, snaring the clubhouse lead on day two of the Australian Open at Royal Sydney.
The Northern Irishman grabbed nine birdies in a seven under par 65 to tie on 10-under par with Australia’s Adam Scott.
The World number six made up for a disappointing opening round by birdying his first two holes and also his last, half an hour before Scott started his second outing.
“It felt good out there this morning and we got a little lucky with the weather forecast not as bad as we thought it would be,” McIlroy said.
“Overall I played well and putted much better than yesterday so that was a big positive, and I am now in a great position going into the weekend.”
It is McIlroy’s first appearance in an Australian Open since competing as an amateur in 2006, also at Royal Sydney, where he averaged 76 over the four rounds.
Reports claim McIlroy has been paid a million dollars to tee up this year in Sydney and while his management company would not comment on this, the double Major winner, who features along with Scott and Jason Day on the promotional billboards and banners, said he was delighted to bring value to the championship.
“It’s very satisfying for me where you are one of the headline acts or main attractions to be able to live up to that billing,” he said.
“For the most part this year I haven’t been able to do that, so it’s nice to be able to reward the people who invite you down here and look after you so well.
“That is what the sponsors and organizers ultimately want at the end of the week and that is to see your name up there on the leader board and challenging for the title.”
While McIlroy is looking to end a more than 12-month winless drought, he is also seeking to become only the second European-born winner of the Australian Open.